City, county make last-minute budget cuts
They’ve gone through the books, they’ve made some cuts, they’ve listened to the public and on Monday city and county officials rolled up their sleeves one more time to make cuts before approving their 2010 budgets.
In the end of July the Leavenworth County Commissioners proposed a 1 mill increase to the 2010 budget. The reason for the increase comes from the need to relocate the county's EMS headquarters.
A mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 in assessed valuation.
Commissioners chose not to put the proposed $1.5 million EMS headquarters project to a bond, but instead opted to pay for part of the project with money from the $569,000 raised with the 1 mill increase and in part from the available $2.2 million in the county’s capital improvement fund.
But when it came time to vote, two commissioners did not go for the increase.
“I do not support the 1 mill increase,” Commissioner Clyde Graeber said before making a motion to reduce the mill increase. “I think it’s higher than it needs to be.”
Graeber wanted to take more money out of the capital improvement fund to offset the mill increase.
Commissioner J.C. Tellefson seconded Graeber’s motion to cut the mill increase and the two voted in favor to accept the 2010 budget with the reduced increase. Commissioner John Flower voted against the reduction stating his concern that by not having the extra $284,500 cushion from the extra half mill increase, the county would be decreasing the capital improvement fund too much.
“Essentially, if there is another major capital improvement project the commissioners want to take on, you are in the position where you will need to bond it,” County Administrator Heather Morgan told the commissioners.
The new tax increase will be an extra $5.75 in property taxes for a $100,000 home.
In Tonganoxie, the city council members were looking at a 2.4 mill increase.
After a lengthy discussion about merit raises for city employees and another line-by-line look at the budget, the council unanimously voted to cut Danny Dodge's full-time building inspector position in favor having that worked contracted out.
By eliminating the position the city was able to cut $39,350 from the budget reducing the mill increase to 1.39 mills.
The mill increase means about a $16 increase to the property taxes of a $100,000 home.
Councilmember Burdel Welsh wasn’t in favor of cutting the budget by anymore and risk city departments from not having enough money to operate in 2010 and then risk the possibility of having an even higher tax hike in 2011.
For more information on Monday's meeting read tomorrow's edition of The Mirror.