The Rundown – City to publish 2021 budget with no tax increase
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 14, 2020, Newton City Commission meeting
At Tuesday night’s meeting, the City Commission approved the 2021 budget for publication. The budget keeps the mill levy flat, reduces the contingency budget amount for “worst case scenarios,” and preserves savings for equipment replacement.
City staff and Commission have worked through the budget cycle with an eye toward keeping a stable level of services while maintaining the current mill levy. Finance Director Donna Pickman reported that 2020 revenues so far have been coming in as expected, but with the continuing pandemic, there is much uncertainty about the future.
The $53 million budget includes:
- An allocation of $55,000 for a tree trimming program. The City will bid out tree trimming services for all public rights-of-way, concentrating on the specific street maintenance area designated for the upcoming year. This will alleviate some of the burden for property owners.
- A 12% reserve balance for the City’s General Fund.
- Full funding for external agencies: $20,000 for Grand Central senior center, $40,000 for Health Ministries, and $30,000 for Newton Area Chamber of Commerce.
The official budget hearing will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 28. At that time the Commission may lower the budget amount but cannot raise it beyond what was published.
The Commission agenda included a resolution to recommend (but not require) mask usage in the city to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Because the Harvey County Commission had adopted a mask requirement that morning, however, the City’s resolution was essentially moot. The City Commission opted not to pass the resolution so as not to create confusion. Masks will indeed be required in public spaces in Newton as part of Harvey County’s emergency health order. You can read that order here.
In the interest of helping residents who may not have access to masks, the City has been able to obtain about 21,000 disposable masks to be given away, including a generous donation of 16,000 masks from Newton Medical Center. Newton police officers will have a supply to hand out on calls, and City Hall will maintain a supply for visitors doing business there. The rest will be made available to Newton businesses to give to their customers. If your business is seeing customers with this need, please call City Hall at 316-284-6001 to make a request. The supply is limited and available on a first come, first served basis.
In other action, the City Commission:
- Approved a lease agreement with Tri-Rotor Crop Services and Wiebe Ag for Hangar L at Newton City/County Airport.
- Amended City Code to repeal a number of regulations that City staff have determined to be unnecessary because they are duplicated elsewhere or present significant questions of enforceability.
- Approved a resolution certifying legal authority and authorization for the City to apply for Community Development Block Grant-COVID funds.