Archive for Thursday, August 26, 2004

Eudorans invited to voice concerns about proposed budget

August 26, 2004

Eudorans will soon have a chance to speak out on the proposed city tax rate for 2005 or forever hold their peace. The city is proposing a mill levy of a little more than 18 mills, or about $300 a year on a residential property with a valuation of $150,000.
Eudorans can share their thoughts on the rate during a public hearing Sept. 13 during the regular Eudora City Council meeting, which begins at 7:30 p.m. at Eudora City Hall, 4 E Seventh St. A copy of the budget appears on Page 7B of The Eudora News print edition.
After previous discussions, the Council had proposed a budget with a mill levy of about 17.5 mills, but additions minus some favorable errors brought the rate up to 18.402 mills. It was still a rate, City Administrator Mike Yanez said, that was less than one mill greater than this year's rate.
Among the amendments, the Council increased funding for Eudora EMS from $3,000 to $5,000. Although EMS gets funding from Douglas County, the Council determined it wasn't enough.
The Council also added room to help the building inspector, a position taxed by Eudora's rapid growth.
"At some times he's practically pulling his hair out," Mayor Ron Conner said.
He acknowledged it was too soon for two building inspectors but suggested part-time help might be in order. City Superintendent Jim Boyer suggested having a part-time position take on other city duties as well.
Although the position may be included in the approved budget, like any other budgeted position it must first garner the City Council's approval before becoming official.
The Council allowed more money for planning consultants' fees, which would mean the city's Planning Commission members would get more help in interpreting ordinances and codes.
Like anything with the budget, planning and engineering costs would be hard to predict, Yanez said. Although the city administrator said he didn't foresee a lot of new subdivisions coming online because of the city's sewer limitations, the city was seeing quite a few annexation requests.
"A budget is taking a look into a crystal ball, and the crystal ball six months from now is pretty fuzzy," Yanez said.
Although the city reduced the amount budgeted this year for a sewer lift station emergency generator, the reduction didn't affect the mill levy because that part of the budget was supported by user fees not taxes.
Another of the Council's changes was a matter of semantics. Council member Tom Pyle said he wasn't happy with $50,000 budgeted for the design of a new fire station, adding that the project would be far enough in the future that such designs could be obsolete. Moreover, Pyle said he thought the public might get the impression that because the money was budgeted that a new fire station was a sure thing.
"We need a new station, but I don't think we're ready for it yet," Pyle said.
The mayor said he wanted the city to be proactive and didn't want to see the item eliminated entirely. Instead, Conner suggested labeling the line item "new facility design," which would give the city the latitude to use it for the design of other city projects as well.
Moreover, Yanez said even if the city wanted to spend the money on design for a new fire station -- or anything else -- doing so would require a vote from the Council.

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