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City to hear $4.84 million in agency fund requests

By Corene Brisendine

City commissioners plan to hear about $4.84 million in budget requests from nine outside agencies during Tuesday’s work session.

The two largest of those are a $2.2 million request from the Manhattan Public Library, and $1 million request from the Chamber of Commerce Convention and Visitors Bureau. The latter item has become controversial in recent weeks, with commissioners John Matta and Wynn Butler both questioning the CVB’s role in funding a feasibility study of a sports complex in the area. Matta and Butler have indicated they want to review the city’s funding commitment to the CVB in the context of that issue. Even though the CVB is funded entirely through the 6 percent transient guest tax, the city has the authority to deny any funding for any project by the CVB.

Other requests will be from the Social Service Advisory Board, Special Alcohol Funds Advisory Committee, Flint Hills Area Transportation Agency; Downtown Manhattan, Inc, and Manhattan Arts Center.

City administrators are proposing a $131,18 million 2014 budget that is up about $10 million from this year’s $121.8 million document.

In addition to hearing requests from these agencies, commissioners will also get another overview of where the proposed budget stands. According to material provided to commissioners, the proposed levy increase has gone up from 2.274 to 2.914 mills. Finance director Bernie Hayen said that increase, in combination with a 2.5 percent increase in valuation, would increase the city portion of the tax bill on a $212,000 home by $97, from about $1,054 to about $1,130.

At the request of the commission, the finance department has also put together a list of possible reductions to the budget, and commissioners will have the opportunity to discuss that list.

Those possible reductions include: elimination of $65,000 for a Community House Historic Resource Feasibility study; a shift of the $64,000 cost of the Manhattan Urban Area Comprehensive Plan to the Economic Development Fund, which is funded by city/county half-cent sales tax; deferring creation of Downtown Design Guidelines until 2015, saving $4,800; moving the city’s $118,654 share of the Flint Hills Metropolitan Planning Organization to the General Improvement Fund, which is funded through city sales tax; allowing the budget to absorb $93,428 in health care increases and $263,428 in Riley County Police Department delinquencies; not hiring additional personnel at $57,000; and moving $100,000 for a combination of temporary note and bond principal on the Tech Park to the Economic Development Fund. Eliminating all these increases to the General Fund budget would reduce the levy increase by 1.618 mills, to 1.296 mills.

The RCPD is funded solely on property tax. If the police department should have a shortfall, the city would have to make that up.

Hayen said a debate has been ongoing about whether the city should set aside money to cover any shortfalls, and noted the $263,428 is 2 percent of the RCPD budget, which would have been set aside in reserves in case it was needed.

The meeting will be at 5 p.m. on Tuesday in the City Commission Room at City Hall, 1101 Poyntz Ave. The meeting will also be televised on local cable channel 3.

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