City commission recommends more funding for Pawnee

By Corene Brisendine

City commissioners recommended an increase to funding for Pawnee Mental Health and moved funding for Downtown Manhattan out of the general fund during Tuesday night’s work session. Several agencies at the meeting asked the commission to consider funding as part of the 2014 budget process.

At the end of the presentation by the special alcohol fund committee, commissioners agreed to increase the funding from $50,572 as proposed by the committee to $60,800 as requested by Pawnee Mental Health. Commissioners agreed the agency needed more funding because the police department and community members needed more treatment options available.

Elaine Johannes, chair of the committee, said they decided to reduce the funding request for Pawnee because there was a problem with transportation for services offered after 5 p.m. Commissioners said they had just given funding to aTa Bus, and they should be able to work out transportation for “on demand” services with the bus agency after normal business hours.

Commissioners also agreed to move the funding for Downtown Manhattan Inc. out of the general fund, which is mostly by property tax, to the economic development fund, which is mostly supported by the city/county half-cent sales tax.

Social Services Advisory board asked for the same amount of funding requested last year with two exceptions. Kansas Legal Services and Homecare and Hospice asked for a $5,000 increase in funding. The board asked for a total of $381,400 to fund the 10 agencies that had requested funding for 2014. Those services include Big Brothers and Big Sisters, The Boys and Girls Club, Homecare and Hospice, KSU Center for Child Development, UFM, The Crisis Center, Kansas Legal Services, Manhattan Emergency Shelter Inc., Shepherd’s Crossing and Sunflower CASA. Commissioner Wynn Butler said he wanted social services funded at the same rate as last year, which was $354,920.

Commissioner Rich Jankovich asked Sarah Blair, chair of the board, if there was a need for the increased funding. She said that not only have domestic abuse and sexual violence increased in the past year, the severity of the violence and abuse has increased.

Butler asked if the 10 agencies listed were the “top 10” in order of greatest to least in need, and Blair said the list was the top 10, but they were listed alphabetically with the exception of splitting into two groups: emergency services and critical services. She said the emergency services were most important, but without the critical services, there would be more need in the community for the emergency services. Emergency services included The Crisis Center, Kansas Legal Services, Manhattan Emergency Shelter, Shepherd’s Crossing and Sunflower CASA.

Butler also said if more community members and business owners would donate $1 on their monthly water bills, the burden to tax payers could be lessened. He asked Blair if the money already in the water donation fund had been used, but Blair said they were waiting for direction from the commission on how to use it.

Finance Director Bernie Hayen, in an overview of the budget, said the 2014 tax levy rate stands at 46.337 mills, or an increase of 2.914 mills over the 2013 levy rate and an increase of 0.172 since the second budget work session.

He said the proposed 2014 mill levy increase is a result of the general fund (2.297 mills), the Manhattan Public Library (.052 mills) and other proposed increases across several of the City’s special revenue funds. The 2014 proposed city budget is $131,265,657 compared to the 2013 budget of $121,804,142.

In his report, Hayen said city administrators have put together a budget-reduction list for the commission to consider which could reduce the mill levy presented at the first and second budget work sessions by 1.618 mills to a total mill levy impact of 1.296 mills.

The fourth city budget work session is scheduled for July 9.

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