City leaders trim more than a mill by tweaking budget
City considering levying 19 mills on property next year
Further tweaking has brought next year's proposed mill levy back in line with what Eudora property owners experienced this year. By deleting an additional street maintenance worker and new "Welcome to Eudora" signs, city leaders Monday night came up with a proposed budget at 19.021 mills.
That would increase the city's tax bill $25 a year on a $150,000 home. This year, Eudorans have been paying 17.577 mills. And 19 mills isn't not bad, said City Administrator Mike Yanez, considering the additional mills needed for bond and interest on infrastructure improvements and the mills needed for the employee benefit fund, accounting for the changes in federal contribution.
Eliminating new welcome signs wouldn't be a problem, leaders said, because the Eudora Chamber of Commerce signs going into two of the old signs' spots would certainly let people know they were entering Eudora. Moreover, it was argued the city shouldn't place signs on Kansas Highway 10 that could be removed if the road was widened, as was being studied.
Eliminating the added street worker position contradicted previous discussions of adding personnel to that department, but Superintendent Jim Boyer said the department could ask for the position again in the budget process next year.
The Eudora City Council and other city leaders talked about other ways to shave spending, among them reallocating money for the west sewer interceptor project to more immediate projects and reallocating developers' contributions to a park land fund for upgrades at existing parks, because the fund rarely raises enough to afford subdivision property.
Mayor Ron Conner also wanted to check how earmarking money in the 2005 budget for a future fire station fit in with the city's five-year capital plan.
Council member Don Durkin also suggested phasing in salary increases, with more dramatic upgrades coming the following year. Council member Dan Gregg asked about purchasing half as many air packs for the fire department in 2005 and getting the rest in 2006.
Getting down to such minutia within the budget prompted the discussion of how low a mill levy was low enough.
The actual mill levies in 2003 and 2004 have been below 17.5 mills. Durkin said the Council wasn't bound to go as low or lower than the previous year.
Acknowledging some would be unhappy with an increase, Gregg said he could support a 20.5 mill levy. Although Conner said there were probably small areas that could be considered for cuts, in the big sweep of things there were a lot of places he wouldn't advise doing so.
"In all honesty we're dealing with things that have been underfunded in the last few years," the mayor said.
Before the City Council passes the budget, the city will publish the document and have a public hearing.