City council reviews 2006 budget plan
Tonganoxie police Chief Ken Carpenter is pleased with his department's proposed 2006 budget.
"I think it's a pretty realistic budget, a fair budget and one we can live within," Carpenter said.
Carpenter, along with other city department heads, met Monday with city council members about the proposed budget, which calls for nearly $1.6 million in expenditures next year. Next year's mill levy is forecast at 33.513 -- a slight decline from this year. One mill is equal to $1 in taxes for every $1,000 in assessed property valuation.
City Administrator Mike Yanez, along with assistant city administrator Kathy Bard, discussed the budget during a special work session on departmental budgets, which include salaries.
The city administrator called for an increase of nearly $53,700 in the police department's budget. The 2006 budget is estimated at $486,362, while the 2005 budget was earmarked at $432,673. Yanez cited higher gasoline costs, more maintenance for police vehicles, upgrades of patrol vehicles and personnel equipment. High overtime costs were a factor as the budget also called for raising starting wages within the department.
"We're in the ball park," Yanez said, referring to how the department compares to other area police departments. "It's just the cost of doing business in the law enforcement business.
Carpenter said there had been a misunderstanding in the past regarding overtime pay.
"Our overtime budget does not reflect scheduling at all," Carpenter said.
He said overtime costs come into play when officers must attend court hearings and "those types of things."
"I try to eliminate overtime by using part-time staff," Carpenter said.
For part-time officers, the new budget calls for an hourly wage of $12. Last year, the council approved an increase for part-timers from $10.40 to $11.
In other departments, the street budget increased roughly $12,000. The 2006 budget has been proposed at $232,809. With more residential and commercial development, the city has more roads to maintain. Costs of materials and supplies, as well as gasoline prices, also were factors, Yanez said.
In the administration department, the 2006 budget was set at $272,781. That's $14,335 higher than the 2005 budget.
Included in that budget are $20,000 in improvements to the council chambers for furniture replacement and renovations. Another line item, for economic development, calls for $30,000 in upgrades to the city's Web site, economic development or production of community marketing brochures.
For the fire department, Chief Dave Bennett hopes to add two full-time firefighters through a federal grant that would pay for 90 percent of their salaries, leaving the city to pay for the other 10 percent.
Yanez reflected that possible salary in the budget, although the fire department hasn't learned yet whether it will receive the grant. Bennett said it was a highly competitive grant program.
Council member Velda Roberts asked whether volunteer firefighters were paid. They are, Bennett said, on weekend calls on an hourly basis.
Roberts voiced concern about where the money came from to pay the firefighters. Bard said it was funded through the general revenue fund.
"I'm not trying to take your money away, I'm just trying to understand where it's coming from," Roberts said.
The city will have another work session at 7 p.m. today in council chambers. The meeting is open to the public.
Topics on tap for tonight include water, sewer and sanitation funds, along with the special highway fund and the law enforcement trust fund.
Overall, Yanez said Monday he was happy with how the budget worked out.
"We're in good shape," Yanez said. "Could we spend more? Sure. Could we save more? Yeah, but at the same time, we don't want to short-change our departments."