Mill Levy Impact Softened in Latest 2015 Budget Proposal

The Manhattan City Commission conducted its 2nd work session Tuesday on the 2015 Budget.

The latest proposal totals $134,481,305 which is an increase of roughly $3.7 million over least year’s budget. Additionally, the proposal includes an estimated mill levy impact of 1.65, which is a 1 mill decrease from the first version. That number translates to a property tax increase of more than 1.4 million dollars.

Director of Finance, Bernie Hayen said Tuesday that despite public perception, the City gets a relatively small slice of the pie as it relates to property taxes.

“For any property tax payer in the City of Manhattan, if they’re not sure where their taxes go, only 8.2% goes to those things that are under your control as a Commission, and under the control of the City Manager. That’s all, 8.2%,” Hayen said.

2015 CIP

The 2015 CIP totals $3,087,709 and of that amount, the General Fund will contribute $354,418.

The City’s total CIP for 2015-2020 is $33,954,141 and features several big-ticket items.

Some of those include:

-K-18/K-113 Diverging Diamond Grant at a cost of $2,254,380
-4 Lane N. Manhattan Ave at From Research Park to Kimball Ave. for $2,000,000
-New Douglass Neighborhood Recreation Center totaling $3,000,000

Road Maintenance

During the first budget work session, a majority of the Commissioners liked the idea of putting a sales tax proposal in front voters in order to supplement the one million-per-year that the City currently spends on road maintenance.

On Tuesday, City Staff presented the Commission with several incremental sales tax increases to consider.

1) .05 cent sales tax would generate $500,000 annually
2) .10 cent sales tax generates $1 million annually
3) .15 cent sales tax generates $1.5 million annually
4) .20 cent sales tax generates $2 million annually

City Manager, Ron Fehr told the Commission they could put question on the ballot this November, wait till next April, or hold a special election.

Transient Guest Tax

In its latest form, the proposal includes a .5% increase to the existing 6% Transient Guest Tax, which would generate slightly more than $102 thousand.

The additional revenue would be transferred to the General Fund to pay for operating costs related to the Flint Hills Discovery Center and to fund a full-time Public Program Coordinator position for the FHDC at a cost of slightly more than $20 thousand.

Mayor Wynn Butler said that he isn’t very keen on giving more money to the Discovery Center, which according to City documentation is roughly $88 thousand in the red. In response, Commissioner, Karen McCulloh acknowledged that the Discovery Center has struggled early on, but added that it needs some time to gain momentum. Commissioner, Rich Jankovich on the other hand, pointed out that the City could use the Eco Devo Fund as a temporary solution, which has the benefit of preventing further impacts to the mill levy.

The City could exercise several other options, some of which include: funding the deficit through the general fund by applying savings in other areas, Increasing Admission, and cutting costs at the Discovery Center.

Water Rates

The proposal also features a relatively low water rate increase compared to years past.

Since 2011, water rate increases have declined from 7% to 4% for 2015; Wastewater rates from 20% in 2011 to 3% for 2015; and Storm water rates from 5% in 2011 to 4% in 2015.

City Manager, Ron Fehr said that following a “Cost of Services” study conducted in 2011, the Commission approved a gradual flattening of the City’s water rate structure over a 5-year period, ending in 2015. That, combined With the City’s updgraded waste water treatment plant and new water meter technology, has contributed to the leveling of water rate increases. Fehr added that water rate increases should be fairly measured going forward.

The Commission will conduct its third 2015 Budget Work Session with City Staff on June 24th.

To view a detailed break down of the latest budget proposal, visit: http://www.cityofmhk.com/DocumentCenter/View/24839