CALDWELL — The Caldwell City Council on Monday approved a tentative $85.6 million budget for fiscal year 2020, which includes $3.5 million for a third fire station.

The proposed budget is a slight increase from the $84.2 million budget approved for FY19. A public hearing is scheduled on Aug. 19.

About $8.3 million would be pulled from the city’s fund balance to pay for the difference between city expenses and revenue and create a balanced budget.

Caldwell Finance Director Carol Mitchell said $3.5 million of the tentative budget would be allocated for a third fire station from Caldwell’s fire impact fee fund. Overall, she said the station is projected to cost about $5 million. The $3.5 million would cover the costs needed in 2020, while the remaining costs will be allocated for 2021, when the project is expected to be complete.

Cities across the Treasure Valley have been searching for ways to fund additional fire stations. In Nampa, a sixth fire station has been needed since 2011, but the city may not be able to fund the station until 2024 or later.

About $23.8 million of the budget would go toward Caldwell’s general fund, which funds things like public safety and engineering. More than $10 million would be allocated for streets, and about $16.3 million would go toward the sewer fund.

Just over $18 million of the proposed budget would be made up by property tax revenue — a more than $1 million increase from last year. In FY19, property tax revenue made up about $16.9 million of the budget.

City council is planning to take the maximum allowed property tax increase of 3%, Mitchell said. Beyond that, new construction is contributing to the revenue increase, she said.

The tax levy rate itself is projected to decrease. That doesn’t necessarily mean a lower tax bill for homeowners, because property values are going up. Last year, the city’s levy rate was $823 per $100,000 of taxable property value; that’s projected to drop to about $780 per $100,000 of taxable property value this year, Mitchell said.

Caldwell’s population is roughly 58,000, according to the Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho. Last month, the city of Nampa, with a population of roughly 100,000, approved a $192 million draft budget.

Erin Bamer is the Nampa/Caldwell reporter. Contact her at 208-465-8193, or Follow on Twitter @ErinBamer.

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