The Davenport City Council’s budget policies for fiscal year 2014 include no increase in property tax, budget director and interim finance director Brandon Wright told aldermen Wednesday.

The council heard proposed policies for the budget process that includes an estimated $700,000 gap between revenues and expenditures.

The gap will be closed through a combination of cuts in expenditures, possible fee and improved efficiencies, though not filling open positions or layoffs could be a small piece of the plan, Wright said, adding that he is hopeful the budget can be balanced without going to extremes.

The current $196.36 million budget included an 8 percent increase to the city’s property tax rate and resulted in about 30 employees being laid off.

The policies don’t include the use of any potential revenue from the city’s pending $46 million purchase of the Rhythm City casino.

“This revenue will not be factored in to staff’s budget preparation until direction is provided by the city council,” the policy says.

In other action, the council also held a hearing on conveying the city’s ownership of the Mississippi Valley Welcome Center in LeClaire to Scott County. Davenport, Bettendorf, LeClaire and Scott County share ownership of the welcome center.

The city is turning over ownership so the welcome center, closed in December, can be sold. The council will vote on the conveyance at its meeting next week.

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Markman Peat, a wholesale distributor of rock, soil and sand products to the lawn and garden industry, plans to move its offices from the Union Arcade in downtown Davenport to the welcome center.

Markman Peat offered $550,000 for the center. The asking price had been $625,000.

The welcome center, which opened in 1989, went up for sale after its board voted to close it in early 2011. At the time, officials cited declining visitor numbers due to the advent of smartphones and GPS devices.

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