‘Boring’ 2012 city budget introduced
The Tonganoxie City Council was presented Monday with the first draft of the 2012 budget its author characterized as “boring” and “status quo.”
The presentation of the budget City Administrator Mike Yanez prepared marks the start of the council’s budget deliberations. Included with the budget was a proposed calendar, which scheduled a council work session on the budget for 6 p.m. Monday, set the date for a public hearing on the budget for Aug. 8 and would have the body approve the 2012 budget Aug. 22.
The draft budget would raise the mill levy from 37.102 mills to 37.436 mills and set total general fund expenditures at $2.119 million. Last year, the draft budget requested a 4 mill increase. A mill equals $1 for every $1,000 of assessed valuation.
Yanez recapped the budget constraints that continue to challenge city budgeting. Those include:
• A stagnant overall community valuation. The city assessed valuation for the 2012 budget is $39.913 million, an increase of just $8,200 from the 2011 valuation.
• Flat sales tax revenues and the near dormant residential home construction market, which costs the city development fees and eliminates annual community valuation increases the city enjoyed for much of the past decade.
Yanez did note one positive trend. The general fund cash reserve balance, which started the year with $140,000, is projected to start 2012 at $340,000. He praised department heads for responsibly responding to the budget challenges.
“Additionally, Tonganoxie has benefitted by cautious spending and fiscal savings realized by the city departments in their operations and purchasing, which has allowed escalation of fund reserves to start FY 2012, yet maintaining service levels benefitting the public and meeting contractual obligations,” Yanez wrote in his budget report.
General fund spending requests for the nine city departments reporting to the city administrator exceed 2011 appropriations by just $31,507. The 2012 budget requests of city administration, the police department, the fire department, court services and the water park decreased for 2011 spending levels.
The Tonganoxie Community Library Board is requesting a mill levy increase from 5.589 mills to 5.903 mills for its operating fund and from 0.887 to 1.039 mills for employee benefits.
Increased spending was requested for the street department to hire an equipment operator. The position was left open when Kent Haskett was promoted to city superintendent with the understanding it would be filled for 2012.
A spending increase was also requested for building inspection/codes enforcement to increase Mark Lee’s time in Tonganoxie one day a week to two (he performs the same duties for the city of Basehor on the other days). Likewise, it was requested the pay for the animal control officer be increased from $550 a month to $833.33 because of the increase in calls regarding stray animals.
The budget would provide 50-cent-per-hour pay raises to $14 an hour for part-time firefighters and police officers.
Like last year, Yanez recommended the city forego 2.5 percent merit pay increases but provide 3 percent cost-of-living increases to city employees. Although last year’s COLA was approved, it was criticized by residents attending budget hearings, including one resident, Dennis Bixby, who is now on the council.
The city administrator wrote in his report that the regional cost of living increased 4.1 percent.
The council received the budget with little comment. But Councilman Bill Peak asked that department heads come to next Monday’s budget work session prepared to answer questions.