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The Rundown – Commission moves ahead with 2018 budget

Post Date:07/12/2017 4:46 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. July 11, 2017, Newton City Commission meeting

At a work session before Tuesday’s official meeting, the City Commission came to preliminary consensus on the 2018 budget.

Commissioners each expressed support for a mill levy increase of 3.043 mills for 2018. The General Fund budget keeps most City services flat, but it does include an additional $100,000 for capital improvements at Sand Creek Station Golf Course and increased funding for City equipment replacement.

City Manager Bob Myers previously had reported that the new State budget lid would allow the City only a 2.33-mill increase. When City staff ran the numbers again, they found the limit was actually 1.719 mills. Getting to the proposed 3-mill increase will require some shifting of sales tax dollars to make up the difference.

The State budget lid prevents local governments from increasing their budgeted revenues beyond an adjusted Consumer Price Index set by the State, unless approved by the voters. However, increased expenses for debt payments are exempt. Right now the City uses about $900,000 in sales tax revenues to pay down debt. So, the City can shift some of those sales tax dollars to the General Fund and then increase the mill levy for the Bond and Interest Fund by the equivalent amount.

A 3.043-mill increase would cost a property owner an additional $35 per year on a $100,000 home, or $52 a year on a $150,000 home.

The 2018 budget was originally projected to draw down reserves by $562,873, leaving a fund balance of only 7.67 percent. The City’s target is 15 percent. Even with the proposed mill levy increase, a deficit of nearly $400,000 remains. Myers said staff is still focused on the goal of eliminating deficit spending and will continue efforts to hold down costs, find efficiencies, delay the filling of some open positions, and so forth.

The City Commission is scheduled to approve a budget for publication at the July 25 meeting, with the official budget hearing on Aug. 8.

Community recognitions

Later Tuesday night, the City Commission honored five Chisholm Middle School students who were identified through the 2017 Duke Talent Identification Program as academically gifted students. Seventh-graders Maddie Duncan, Clayton Kaufman, Cody Headings, Cody Eye and Andrew Barron earned this recognition by taking the ACT test and earning scores that are approximately equal to the 50th national percentile rank for college-bound high school seniors.

In other action, the City Commission:

  1. Discussed possible provisions of a new right-of-way ordinance. This will establish a permitting process for utility companies and others who do work in the public right-of-way.
  2. Received an update on the new amusement park inspection requirements. At this time City staff does not believe the Municipal Pool water slide requires State inspection and permitting.
  3. Reviewed changes to state law regarding executive sessions.
  4. Approved a request for City assistance for the Harvey County Free Fair, including barricades, snow fencing and picnic tables.

For more information, please contact Director of Communications Erin McDaniel at 284-6055 or