UPDATE: Waterloo City Council passes 2019 budget - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATE: Waterloo City Council passes 2019 budget

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

UPDATE: After two failed attempts, the Waterloo City Council has reached an agreement on the city budget for the next fiscal year.

For the third time, Waterloo City Council members held a special meeting Tuesday afternoon before Thursday's deadline.

Within two hours, Council members agreed,  or as many of the council members said "compromised" on a plan. 

The budget agreement will lower the city's current property tax rate about 15 cents to $17.45. However, the drop comes with cuts to several departments, including one open firefighter position and the controversial city mechanic job.

Councilwoman Sharon Juon said, "Am I totally happy with it? No, and I am sure the other side isn't totally happy either, but we needed to get a budget passed or the consequences would have been very significant and nobody wanted that."

Tune in to the KWWL News at 5, 6 and 10 for the latest details on this developing story. 

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The debate continues as Waterloo looks at ways to stretch the dollar even more. Waterloo City Council voted down the mayor's proposed budget at Thursday's special meeting.

Five of seven council members voted down Mayor Quentin Hart's proposal that would have increased the levy rate by 16-cents to $17.76, and would have cut two firefighters.

The major point of contention brought up by Councilman Bruce Jacobs was the lack of reduction in the levy rate, which is part of the five-year goals that have been set by the city council.

The mayor responded, saying his proposal was a compromise and combination of many suggestions made by the council.

Following the vote down, newly-elected Council Member Margaret Klein made a new budget proposal. 

It included a drop in the levy rate to $17.17, compared to last year's levy rate of $17.60.  It also included removing $450,000 from the expected state backfill money. 

According to the Waterloo Chief Financial Officer, Michelle Weidner, the combination would cause a roughly $2.7 million dollar deficit in the budget.

Klein did not give specifics on where that gap would be taken from. Mayor Hart stepped in saying it would cause countless job cuts.

"To come up with $2.7 million that includes losses in every department from police to fire to every department, there will be losses in personnel. That is the only way we can make up that type of money," said Mayor Hart.

The proposal was voted through by Klein, Jacobs, newly-elected Chris Shimp and veteran member Steve Schmitt.

Mayor Hart was ready with an official veto letter, in which he listed off the many reasons why he could not support such a drastic cut.

The council had the opportunity to override the mayor's veto, but Schmitt's motion died without a second.

The council worked to find a compromise following the veto, with several suggestions made to alter the mayor's proposal.

The meeting ended four hours after it started. The council has until March 15th to approve a FY2019 budget.

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