City reschedules budget hearing
There will not be a public hearing on the city's 2001 budget on Monday night as scheduled. Instead, City Administrator Larry Paine will walk the City Council through the budget step by step, and answer any questions along the way. The public hearing is planned for Tuesday, July 25, at a time and location to be announced.
"The budget is still a work in progress," said Paine.
As of Monday afternoon, the proposed $5.8 million budget was sporting a $238,000 deficit. Paine said employee salary increases make up a "good portion" of the deficit.
The City Council approved a pay raise for employees last fall, based on salary recommendations from the League of Kansas Municipalities. The league prepared the "ideal" competitive wage for each position in the city.
"A good portion of that deficit could be attributed to adjustments in salaries," Paine said.
He said the budget could be balanced by adding revenue and cutting expenditures.
"Right now, I don't know how I am going to do that," he said.
One solution may be to increase employee salaries in stages throughout the year, instead of all at once.
"The council has asked if we could implement salary increases in stages," Paine said. "Throughout the course of the year, it could save us enough money to balance the budget out."
Paine said he expects the proposed 33.2 mill levy for the 2001 budget to increase a bit when the budget is finalized. The mill levy for the 2000 budget was 35.051 mills. A mill is $1 in property taxes for every $1,000 in assessed valuation. The valuation of property within Baldwin City increased from $13.9 million last year to $15.5 for the 2001 budget.
"The increase in valuation keeps the mill levy from increasing," Paine said.
Last year at this time, Paine said he predicted a 2001 budget supported by 40 mills.
"I am ecstatic we got where we are," he said. "The target is to stay where we are, or below, on the tax levy."
On paper, the 2000 budget was considerably higher by $1.2 million than the proposed 2001 budget. However, Paine said several expensive projects in the 2000 budget were instead funded by bonds.
"Dollar for dollar, it's $1.2 million less than last year," Paine said. "Last year, I programmed expenditures I thought would happen that we funded in a different fashion."
Projects funded through bonds in the 2001 budget include: improvements to U.S. Highway 56, reconstruction of Sixth Street, electric infrastructure upgrades, replacement of the city's water line running under the Baker Wetlands and improvements to a water pump station north of town.