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Budget process to begin

By Corene Brisendine

City commissioners plan to hold their first 2014 budget work session on Tuesday.

Several city departments have requested increases to their budgets, but it was not immediately clear what the overall proposed increase might be from the current–year $121.8 million document. In the $25.99 million general fund alone, $1.69 million in hikes are being requested, translating to a proposed 6.5 percent adjustment to that fund. It is also recommended that the capital improvement project fund be increased, but a more in-depth discussion on that fund is scheduled for the second budget work session in June.

Tuesday’s meeting marks the first step in a process expected to continue well into the summer, with adoption of a 2015 budget likely in August.

Property taxpayers are being asked to support several levy adjustments, although growth should cover the proposed $1.4 million increase in the city’s contribution to the Riley County Police Department levy. In March, city commissioners approved the library expansion project, which will increase that agency’s 5.241 mill levy by .759 mills.

City administrators are requesting an increase to the mill levy to cover increases to the Employee Benefit Fund, The Kansas Police and Fire Fund and the Fire Equipment Reserve Fund, all controlled by the city manager.

It is anticipated that because of the ending cash balances for 2013, the mill levy for the bond and interest fund may be reduced, but a higher mill levy rate and additional property tax is “likely” in 2015, according to information provided by finance director Bernie Hayen. He acknowledged that the city’s overall debt is “expected to remain high,” but noted that more than half is for redevelopment projects and special assessments for new residential subdivisions. Both of these have dedicated revenue streams not attached to city-wide property tax.

Enterprise Funds are associated with water, wastewater and stormwater. These funds are not supported by property taxes, but by user fees attached to utility bills. The finance department is requesting “additional rate adjustments in order to adequately meet debt repayments.”

City commissioners will meet at 5 p.m. on Tuesday in the City Commission Room at City Hall, 1101 Poyntz Ave. The session will also be televised on Cable Channel 3.

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