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The Rundown – City considers impact of tax lid on 2018 budget

Post Date:06/28/2017 7:58 PM

The Rundown is prepared by the City of Newton Public Information Office to summarize the City Commission meeting and does not represent official Commission minutes.

7 p.m. June 27, 2017, Newton City Commission meeting

At a work session before Tuesday’s official meeting, the City Commission continued discussion of the 2018 budget. 

Without any adjustments, the 2018 budget is projected to draw down reserves by $562,873, leaving a fund balance of only 7.67 percent. The City’s target is 15 percent.

City staff have been working to find ways to reduce that deficit, while also evaluating the impact of the new State-mandated tax lid, which prevents local governments from increasing their budgeted revenues beyond an adjusted Consumer Price Index set by the State, unless approved by the voters.

City Manager Bob Myers reported that under the tax lid, the City would be allowed to raise the mill levy by up to 2.339 mills without conducting a public vote. Such an increase would generate about $281,000 for the City. Along with some cost-cutting measures, that would bring the projected 2018 budget deficit down to $34,621. That budget does not include, however, needed capital improvements at Sand Creek Station Golf Course or full funding of the equipment reserve plan.

Commissioners expressed concern that if they did not raise the full 2.339 mills in 2018, the City would be hit even harder in subsequent years. They requested that staff bring back options to consider at the July 11 work session showing a 2.339-mill increase or 1.5-mill increase.

Community recognitions

Later Tuesday night, the City Commission honored the 2017 recipients of the Newton High School Distinguished Alumni award: Dr. Charles Craig, Sarah Morris Masem and the late Vernon Rickman.

The Commission also recognized retiring NHS teacher Charle Triggs for his work in developing the Drivers Education Consequences program in conjunction with the Kansas Highway Patrol, Newton Police Department, and Newton Fire/EMS, and for his 50 years working in education.

In other action, the City Commission: 

  1. Received an update on fundraising for Centennial Dog Park. Caring Hands Humane Society reports that the dog park fund has $8,888 in the account, with $1,000 of that specifically donated for agility course equipment. Rotary Club and community volunteers continue to fundraise for park improvements.
  2. Updated cemetery rules and regulations. The most notable change is that the City will now allow services on Saturdays following official holidays, for an additional fee.
  3. Amended sign regulations to allow wall signs and monument signs in residential zoning districts with a Special Use Permit.
  4. Amended City Code to comply with recent changes to State law:
    a. Increased the penalty for seatbelt violations to $30 with no court costs. $20 of the fine will be forwarded to the State’s new Seatbelt Safety Fund, which will fund seatbelt safety programs for children.
    b. Amended the definition of Domestic Battery to include two people in a dating relationship who do not live together.
    c. Reduced the severity of a possession of drug paraphernalia offense from a Class A violation to a Class B violation.
  5. Approved a two-year contract for the City Manager with a base salary of $145,000, vehicle allowance of $5,000 per year, and possibility to cash out not more than two weeks’ vacation per year.

For more information, please contact Director of Communications Erin McDaniel at 284-6055 or emcdaniel@newtonkansas.com.