Budget Season Is Upon Us

Like a farmer preparing his (or her) fields for the growing season, City of Muscatine staff have been busy preparing their fields of proposals for the Fiscal Year 2018-2019 Budget Season. Last November department heads began meeting with their respective staff to work on and complete reports of accomplishments, expectations for the future, and budget proposals for the upcoming fiscal year. While working to complete this extremely important task, city staff have been dutifully dedicated to their regular work routine and to the citizens of Muscatine.


It is Budget Season for the City of Muscatine and although the season only lasts a short period of time on the calendar, its impact will be felt a year from now and in the year’s to come.


The City of Muscatine is required to adopt an annual budget by March 15 of each year. The process begins in November when the departments are presented with their budget materials and instructions on the process. The initial department proposals are reviewed by Nancy Luecks, city financial director, and Gregg Mandsager, city administrator, and then refined in meetings with the individual departments during December.


There are a myriad of issues and challenges associated with preparing a departmental budget just as there is in combining those budget proposals into one comprehensive city budget that meets the needs of the citizens of Muscatine. It is no small feat especially when you consider future money is never guaranteed, just anticipated.


While local government cannot control what happens with the state legislature in Des Moines, local government can look ahead towards what they can do to ensure the expectations of its citizens are met. Long range plans that are geared toward increasing the population of residents, homes, and businesses have their base in these budgets. City departments, then, have to forecast what they can do to reach the long term goals while meeting the needs of citizens today … and stay within the confines of the anticipated dollars they will receive in the coming fiscal year.


That part of the Budget Season has passed. And now …


Now, as January comes to a close, it is time for these department budget proposals to be presented to the Muscatine City Council, the governing body of the City of Muscatine who are the final decision makers as to what shape the budget for the next fiscal year will look like. The process begins Thursday (Jan. 25) at 5:30 p.m. when the City Council convenes to hear the General Fund Overview. Over the next two weeks, each department and agency will have their time before the City Council to plead their case, to answer questions, and, if needed, to modify their budgets.


All budget sessions are open to the public and a schedule of the meetings in available at this link … Budget Schedule. Each session has different departments presenting with citizens welcomed at all of the presentations. Public comment at this time is not part of the process but DO take notes because time for citizen input has been set aside during the Public Hearing that is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, March 1 (the actual date and time will be set by City Council at the conclusion of the department/agency presentations).


Throughout the budget process there are numerous opportunities to participate and engage with your City staff and Council members. Please stay tuned for periodic updates on the process, issues and challenges the City faces in putting together a budget for a full service city, and a budget that meets our community needs but is also responsible at the same time.


The City of Muscatine values constructive input and appreciates hearing your ideas. You can comment here on our blog, visit the Community Voice section of our web site, visit our social media sites at Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, or you can email us to stay connected.

  • Kevin Jenison, Communications Manager

Know parking plan before snow emergency is declared

City of Muscatine Public Works Director Brian Stineman is the first to admit there is no perfect solution to on-street parking during a declared snow emergency.


“There are too many variables to consider when winter weather events approach that it is difficult to determine how soon and if a snow emergency should be declared,” Stineman said.


The best advice for Muscatine residents parking on the street is to know the snow emergency parking regulations and be prepared to act on them for any snow event of two inches or more. Even if a snow emergency is not declared, adhering to the established parking plan allows DPW crews to clear the streets quickly and safely.


City Code does not specify how much notification time is needed before the implementation of a snow emergency, but the general rule of thumb is four hours. And that is if the forecast comes to fruition.


Forecasting weather events is not an exact science and the patterns can change hourly.


“You can have a general idea of what is going to happen but the longer you wait the clearer picture you have as to whether a snow emergency is needed,” Stineman said. “On the other hand, the longer you wait the less notification time there is for the public before the onset of the declaration.”


The City of Muscatine declared a Snow Emergency in the final days of 2017 (December 29-31), the first Snow Emergency in two years as a winter storm took aim on Muscatine with an anticipated six-plus inches of snow followed by a frigid arctic air mass.


The decision was not made lightly and a lot of discussions were held in the previous 24 hours whether a snow emergency was needed.


“The forecast kept changing,” Gregg Mandsager, city administrator, said. “Originally we were only going to get two inches, then 3-to-5, then 4-to-6, and finally six-plus.”


The timing of the storm was another variable. Originally the storm was to move through Muscatine starting at 2 p.m. Friday and the decision was made to announce the snow emergency at 8 a.m. and implement it at noon. By 8:30 a.m., however, the snow was already falling.


Notify Me“Once the determination was made, the announcement was sent out by email and posted on social media,” Kevin Jenison, communications manager for the City of Muscatine said. “The best way for the public to stay on top of breaking news from the city is to click on the Notify Me icon on the front page of the web site and complete the easy three-step process to begin receiving notifications.”


By 10 a.m., staff members from the City including administration, Department of Public Works, Muscatine Fire Department, and the Muscatine Police Department, were meeting to develop the game plan for the event. By noon, the snow emergency went into effect and snow was already piling up.


So what does a snow emergency really mean? Mostly, the declaration has to do with on-street parking and allowing snow removal to proceed at a quicker pace.


According to City Code, streets that normally allow parking on both sides of the street will be subject to “alternate side of the street” parking during a snow emergency. On odd-numbered days of the month, parking is permitted only on the odd-numbered side of the street. Likewise, parking is permitted only on the even-numbered side of the street on even-numbered days.


For all streets where parking is allowed only on one side, if that side is on the even-numbered side of the street parking is allowed only on even-numbered days with no parking allowed on odd-numbered days. Likewise, if the one side is on the odd-numbered side of the street parking is allowed only on odd-numbered days with no parking allowed on even-numbered days.


The caveat is that for the Class 1 streets, those designated to be cleared first including snow ordinance routes, hospital access streets, school access routes, and transit emergency bus routes, the effort is to clear the entire street from curb to curb before proceeding to other streets.


“We have very good drivers and they do the best they can to work around parked cars,” Stineman said.


The transition time between the first and second day of a snow emergency is from 12-8 a.m. meaning that you will not be ticketed for parking on the wrong side of the street until after 8 a.m. on the second snow emergency day.


The downtown Central Business District (bounded by Mulberry, Third, Mississippi Drive, and Pine streets) are not affected by the snow emergency parking regulations. However, restrictions on parking are put in place following a significant snowfall where the accumulation must be removed from parking areas and sidewalks in the downtown area.


There are five emergency plow snow routes throughout the city which are cleared first according to DPW Street Maintenance Supervisor Randy Howell.


“We have a map with the emergency routes in different colors which just is a guide for our crews to know which route they need to clear,” Howell said.


For more information visit the Snow & Ice Removal page on the City of Muscatine web site. You can also call the Department of Public Works at 563-272-2506 for more information.


Snow Emergency Ordinance Q&A


There are two other sections in City Code that deal with snow and ice removal.


Section 3-1-4 states that property owners are responsible for clearing natural accumulations of snow and ice from the sidewalks within 24 hours after the last snowfall. If the property owner does not clear the sidewalk in a reasonable time, the City will attempt to notify the property owner to remove the snow and ice. If the City clears the snow and ice, the property owner will be assessed the costs of removal.


Section 3-1-7 simply states that it is unlawful to throw, push or place any ice or snow from private property, sidewalks or driveways onto the streets.


Title III: Public Ways and Property


Kevin Jenison, Communications Manager