Mill Levy Increase for 2015 Continues to Shrink

The Manhattan City Commission met Tuesday to discuss the details of the 2015 Budget, and the latest proposal includes a mill levy increase of 1.512, the least to date.

“From the first work session, it was  in the 2 range I think, and last time it was 1.653,” said Hillary Badger, assistant director of finance

The latest overall 2015 budget proposal has also decreased by a little over $125 thousand since the last work session.

RCPD Fund

Based on the latest data regarding property tax revenues collected this year, the Riley County Police Department Fund will have a shortfall going into the 2015 budget year of roughly $237 thousand.

The City has a number of options to deal with the issue including budgeting for the delinquency in 2015 by adding slightly less than a half-mill to the current proposed mill levy increase of 1.512. However, that means RCPD will essentially double dip, which just isn’t acceptable in Mayor Wynn Butler’s opinion.

“If we make up the delinquency, we will not get reimbursed, but when the taxpayer finally pays it, it’ll go to RCPD,” Butler said. “Now indirectly, the police department’s taken care of this because when they have excess, then they have a carry over. But, is all of that carry-over? I don’t think that’s been the case every year.”

This is an issue that has faced the Commission off and on during budget season for several years, but it appears as though a solution has been found. Based on Tuesday’s discussion, the Commission will likely exercise the following two options:

1. Anticipate that non-budgeted delinquent property tax collections will be sufficient to cover the expected shortfall in the RCPD Fund.

2. Notify RCPD late next year that any shortfall should be covered by RCPD reserve funds.

Travel Costs

With only one budget work session left, Mayor Butler’s primary goal is saving money but cutting unnecessary costs; and during Tuesday night’s discussion, Butler said examining the City’s travel expenses should be a priority.

“Two hundred thousand dollars, we outta be able to take a chunk out of that. How much? I don’t know, but there’s quite a bit there,” Butler said.

Butler pointed to a leadership conference, which the Commission and City administration attend each year, as a source of waste for the City. The conference is sponsored by the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce, but it’s held in Overland Park. Butler argues that money should be spent in Manhattan, or at least the Flint Hills area.

Commissioner, Usha Reddi agreed that the Commission should examine the City’s travel budget, but warned that cutting too much could be counterproductive.

“It has to be such that we’re still going forward as Manhattan, the hub of all great things, or we’re just gonna cut it and we’re just gonna be insulated and inbreed our ideas,” Reddi said.

Home Stretch

The 5th and final 2015 budget work session will be held on Tuesday, July 22nd. A public hearing on the 2015 budget will be held on Tuesday, August 5th.