City commissioners to discuss budget

By Burk Krohe

Money will be on the minds of city commissioners Tuesday when they hold the first of four planned work sessions to discuss the 2013 budget this summer. The session takes place at 5 p.m.

This is the start of the Commission discussions on the budgeting process, which according to state statute must be completed by August 15.

The current City Commission—particularly commissioners Wynn Butler, John Matta and Loren Pepperd—has been adamant about controlling the budget and city debt. However, it might be difficult to keep the mill levy down with increases in several areas.

The total city budget is projected to increase from about $113 million this year to nearly $123 million in 2013. The overall tax levy related to the budget would be 44.971 mills, an increase of more than 2 mills from this year.

Bernie Hayen, city finance director, notes in a city budget memo that most city departmental budgets within the general fund are projected to remain flat. However, Hayen also states that the finance department projects increases within the fund related to the new city fire station, a new city parking division, city pool seasonal employment costs and city utility costs. The proposed mill levy rate related specifically to the general fund is 2.836 for 2013. It would be an increase of 0.391 mills from 2012.

The city also controls several special revenue funds, some of which are under the city manager’s control and some of which are not. A small mill levy increase is expected related to the employee benefit fund, Discovery Center, the new fire station staff, city parks and health-related expenditures, all of which are controlled by the city manager’s office.

A more substantial increase is expected due to an increased Riley County Police Department budget, which is not under the city manager’s control. The department’s total expenditures is anticipated to increase from about $13 million this year to about $14.1 million in 2013. The projected tax levy rate related to those expenditures would increase from 27.32 mills to 27.851 mills, an increase of 0.489 mills.

Hayen also notes the city has seen marked growth, which means valuation growth for the city. The finance department expects a 4 percent valuation increase in 2013. The city expects an increase of a little more than 2 million in property taxes over 2012. It’s estimated that $605,801 will come from new improvements within the city.

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