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Bettendorf in 'very strong position' financially despite pandemic revenue shortfalls
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Bettendorf in 'very strong position' financially despite pandemic revenue shortfalls

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Despite a shortfall in revenue caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the city of Bettendorf finds itself in a "very strong" financial position and was able to hire three additional firefighters this fall, with three more expected to come onboard in February. In this photo, firefighters work the front of the Superior Labels business at 2390 Cumberland Square Drive in October.

Despite financial shortfalls caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the city of Bettendorf ended its fiscal year on June 30 "in a very strong financial position" and continues on that track nearly halfway into the budget year that began July 1, Finance Director Jason Schadt told the city council Tuesday.

Anticipating a $2.2 million reduction in revenue, the city in June trimmed about $1.9 million from across all funds in the 2020-21 budget year now underway.

But while still down from pre-pandemic levels, actual revenue is coming in better than expected in every category, so Schadt said he expects "some of those deferred expenditures (capital equipment, canceled programs, delayed healthcare costs) to come back into the budget this year and next."

In addition, the city received $868,501 from the state of Iowa via the federal CARES Act aimed at helping local governments with direct expenses incurred in response to COVID-19, he said.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds allocated $100 million of the state's CARES money to cities, and Bettendorf applied for, and received, the maximum it was eligible for, based on population. The money is being used for public safety salaries and benefits.

The revenue streams affected by the pandemic include sales, road use and hotel/motel taxes, gaming revenue and revenue from the city's own programs such as at the Family Museum and Life Fitness Center.

The budget moves enacted in June included increasing fees at the Life Fitness Center, canceling the Fourth of July street fest and parade, not opening Splash Landing or Frozen Landing and deferring capital improvement projects and purchases of equipment.

The city council's policy is to maintain a fund balance of 20% to 25% of expenditures in the general fund. At the end of June, the city was at 30% of expenditures ($7.4 million) and in the road use fund — used exclusively for street and road maintenance and infrastructure improvements — the city was at 40%, Schadt said.

"We are really happy to have added fund balance in these funds, and in several other key funds, after the shock of the pandemic," he said in an email. "We are in a very strong position to be able to react to any further impacts of the pandemic or other financial challenges."

And despite the budget-trimming, the city hired three full-time firefighters in October and is on track to hire three more in February. Also, retirements and vacancies in various departments are for the most part being filled, City Administrator Decker Ploehn said.

In other business Tuesday, the council:

• Approved a contribution of $3,429 to help the Scott County Housing Council to provide emergency shelter to people experiencing homelessness during the winter. The council has requested a total of $24,000, based on population, from the cities of Bettendorf, Davenport, Moline, Rock Island and East Moline and the counties of Scott and Rock Island.

• Approved an additional $40,000 toward the design engineering of the Great Lawn at Forest Grove Park that will include storm water detention and a 10-foot-wide recreational trail connecting the east and west side of the park along Forest Grove Drive.

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