The Manhattan City Commission met Tuesday for the fifth and final 2015 budget work session.
The latest budget total for 2015 sits at $134.39 million, a $3.6 million increase from 2014.
Additionally, latest version of the proposed mill levy increase for 2015 is roughly half of what it was when budget season started.
“We started at a 2.65 mill levy increase and as we stand here at the 5th work session, a 1.288,” said Hillary Badger, assistant director of finance.
In an effort to flatten the mill levy and soften the blow to property owners, Commissioner Rich Jankovich listed several 2015-2020 CIP items that could be funded by the economic development fund.
The list is comprised of equipment such as a mounted paint striper and new pumper truck. In total, the list contains $231 thousand in equipment and could further decrease the mill levy impact for 2015 by 0.46 mills.
According to City Manager Ron Fehr, equipment hasn’t been funded by economic development monies before and he warned of the message it would send to future Commissions.
“The caution I would make is that it does kind of set some precedent for the future; but certainly that’s something if you’re going to do it, I would encourage you to do it on an annual basis so it doesn’t get locked in as opposed to some of the project decisions we’ve made,” Fehr said.
It has long been one of Mayor, Wynn Butler’s goals to keep the mill levy as flat as possible, and he stated Tuesday that an increase just isn’t justified by a statistical need. Butler also warned against feeding what he called the “beast of government bureaucracy”
“The appraisals have covered the inflation,” Butler said “If the appraisals were down or the appraisals were flat, then okay, I could see a mill levy growth. But in reality, the appraisals are up and it’s giving us more money. Even if you look at these General Fund figures, you’re looking at a million dollar increase in the General Fund. That’s if the mill levy’s flat.”
Commissioner, Karen McCulloh, on the other hand, believes that incremental spending increases would prevent a massive increase in the future.
“We’re not wealthy, but we have adequate support and adequate wages that we can pay a bit more to make sure that we are doing a good job of providing service,” McCulloh said “It’s not a beast, its service.”
The City will publish the 2015 Budget proposal this week, now that the work session period has concluded. The Commission is unable to increase the budget amount after publication, but they can decrease it. If you would like to voice your questions and concerns, visit City Hall on August 5th at 5:00 p.m. for the public hearing on the 2015 City Budget proposal.
As always, you can view a fully detailed budget report by visiting the following link: http://www.cityofmhk.com/DocumentCenter/View/26613