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The Rundown – Commission adopts 2019 budget

Post Date:07/25/2018 2:08 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 24, 2018, Newton City Commission meeting

At Tuesday night’s meeting, the City Commission adopted the 2019 budget with a combination of budget reductions, a 1-mill tax increase and additional fund transfers to balance the budget.

The $52.5 million budget includes the addition of a drug detective position and a part-time inspector/tech in the Engineering Division. It also includes a 2 percent cost-of-living adjustment for City employees, which has been cut the past two years, and an increase in reserve funds for equipment replacement.

The budget also includes funding for external agencies, including $25,000 for Grand Central senior center, $40,000 for Health Ministries, and $30,000 for Newton Area Chamber of Commerce. But Commissioners indicated that as the budget continues to tighten, those agencies may want to look for alternative funding streams after 2019.

The City’s original budget projections had left a shortfall of $718,208. After completing the second-quarter financial reports this week, City staff estimated that additional interest income should generate approximately $300,000 more in 2018 and 2019 than budgeted, leaving a gap of just $418,208.  

The Commissioners expressed great angst over raising the mill levy for the third year in a row, but they acknowledged the revenue pressures the City is facing, especially from the Bond and Interest Fund. Without at least a small increase in 2019, some feared a huge increase would be required for 2020.

After hearing from several residents during the public hearing and vigorous debate among themselves, Commissioners voted 3-2 for a compromise plan that eliminates a proposed new police lieutenant position, increases the mill levy by 1 mill, and transfers $181,661 from sales tax for economic development and infrastructure.

A 1-mill increase will cost an additional $11.50 per year for the owner of a $100,000 home.

Community recognition

The City Commission honored Newton Medical Center’s Karen Lehman, who recently received the American Association of Nurse Practitioners’ 2018 State Award for Excellence. Lehman co-developed the “Right on Track” transitional care program at NMC, which evaluates high-risk patients to identify health barriers and reduce hospital readmission.

The Commission also recognized Chisholm Middle School student Lucas Comeaux, who was honored through the Duke Talent Identification Program for his exceptional score on the Evidence-based Reading and Writing portion of the SAT college entrance exam.

In other action, the City Commission:

  1. Received a report on results of the Municipal Pool community survey.
  2. Received the 2nd quarter financial report.
  3. Approved a request to close Main Street and waive eligible fees for the Taste of Newton on Oct. 4.
  4. Approved an application for a temporary alcohol permit for the Sand Creek Summer Daze festival Aug. 17-19 in Athletic Park. The Commission also amended the City ordinance regarding Sand Creek to allow the use of motorized watercraft with approval of the City so that a pontoon boat may be used for dinner cruises during the festival.
  5. Rezoned a piece of property owned by the City on East First Street as I-2 (general industrial) as an expansion of the Kansas Logistics Park/Newton Industrial Park.
For more information, please contact Director of Communications Erin McDaniel at 284-6055 or