Growth pushes city’s budget up $1.4 million
A Tonganoxie city budget that's up about $1.4 million for the next fiscal year reflects a simple fact of life - growth, says City Administrator Chris Eppley.
"We're growing so fast, with construction going on everywhere you look," he said. "Much of that growth is reflected in a growing budget."
Also reflected in the fiscal 2000 budget, which begins Jan. 1, is a major facelift of the city's downtown, the Fourth Street improvement program.
The fiscal 2000 budget, which was approved by the Tonganoxie City Council at the end of August, totals $3.7 million. Last year's budget was $2,319,644. But because much of the budget increase will come from state grants, Eppley said, local property taxes won't increase significantly. The owner of a home in Tonganoxie valued at $100,000 will pay city taxes of about $386 next year, an increase of about $24 from a year ago. The total mill levy for residential property is 33.64 mills, up from 31.5 last year. A mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 in assessed valuation. An increase in the city's total valuation, up 6.2 percent to $12,954,353 from a year ago, when it was $12,187,436, helped keep the tax increase to 2 mills, Eppley said.
"The Fourth Street project is the biggest change in this year's budget," Eppley said.
In the budget, the project totals $871,212, but a state-sponsored Comprehensive Development Grant will provide $713,605 of that total. Businesses on Fourth Street will participate in a benefit district to fund the rest of the project, including new sidewalks, trees and other cosmetic improvements.
The city's special highway fund will also be affected by improvements involving Fourth Street, with widening of the road and turn lanes at the stoplight on U.S. Highway 24-40. The fund is set to quadruple in the coming fiscal year, from $51,000 to $195,000 in 2000.
State assistance will contribute a total of $630,000 to city improvements including road improvements, much of that amount going to the stoplight intersection project.
Other budget lines of note:
- City library. The library's financial support from the city will increase to $79,800 up from $70,000 a year ago.
- Water fund. Budgeted for $807,639 next fiscal year, the water fund is the city's major utility expense. Local funding for the water fund is up substantially from last year's $587,139 because of a community development grant that contributed $400,000 for major system improvements in 1999.
- Employee benefit fund. It's budgeted for $215,000 next fiscal year, up from $155,000 last year.
A capital expense planned for 2000 is the purchase of a new street sweeper. The city has budgeted $85,000 for the sweeper, a purchase also related to the Fourth Street project, Eppley said. With the investments in Fourth Street's facelift, merchants feel it necessary to maintain improvements and keep the area clean, thus the need for a sweeper, he said. He said the sweeper being considered is one of the smallest made.
Mayor John Franiuk said the growth in population, city expenditures and development have resulted in budgeting increases and reinforce his belief that the city needs a full-time manager with the authority to make day-to-day decisions regarding staffing and expenditures.
"When you look at this budget you have to realize that we can't wait for two council meetings a month to take action," he said. "You have to be ready every day."