The Manhattan City Commission listened to funding requests by outside agencies and groups from the 2019 city budget at their meeting in City Hall Tuesday. They heard requests from the Social Services Advisory Board, the Special Alcohol Committee, Downtown Manhattan, Inc., the Aggieville Business Association, the Manhattan Public Library, the Manhattan Arts Center and the Flint Hills Transportation Agency.
Before the presentations, Director of Finance Bernie Hayen gave the commission an overview of the proposed $155 million budget for 2019. He also announced that the city is entering a freeze on new hires and travel expenditures.
“We’re doing that because of revenue shortfalls that finance believes are going to occur this year,” Hayen said.
Despite the freeze, Commissioner Usha Reddi said they will not be laying off staff.
“There’s a lull, but we’re not in a situation where we’re not being responsible,” said Reddi.
Hayen also said though the city saw a $20,000 increase in sales tax since 2017, revenue from that source is still $50,000 below what was expected in 2018.
“So our budget deficit continues to grow even though we’re still maintaining flat on sales taxes themselves,” he said.
These and other shortfalls led the Finance Department to recommend a property tax increase of $2.2 million. Hayen said this is necessary if the city is to end with their desired $2 million starting balance for 2019.
“If we don’t take steps necessary, we’re not going to start 2019 any better,” said Hayen. “It’s entirely possible that 2019 won’t be any better in terms of [revenue]increases.”
Social Service Advisory Board
Social Services Advisory Board (SSAB) Chair John Ball requested a $20,000 increase in funding for fiscal year 2019.
Social service agencies that would not see an increase or decrease in funding under Ball’s recommendations include the Crisis Center ($48,800), Manhattan Emergency Shelter, Inc. ($66,768) and the Boys & Girls Club ($30,605).
Ball recommended Sunflower CASA Project, Inc. — an organization that advocates for neglected and abused children in the court system — see an increase in funding from $38,700 in 2018 to $56,000 in 2019. Ball said the increase is due in part to inadequate funding for the Kansas Department for Children and Families.
“We felt that due to the DCF shortfall we needed to provide them some of the additional funding that they requested to fill the gap,” Ball said.
Ball further said the funding would go toward a new supervisor’s salary.
The KSU Center for Child Development would see an increase from $43,432 in 2018 to $44,132 in 2019 under Ball’s recommendations. This falls short of the center’s requested $50,000.
“They’ll provide the same support to the families, they were just looking forward to being able to subsidize even lower income families in the future,” Ball said.
Mayor Linda Morse asked if large discrepancies between requested and recommended funds would interfere with agencies’ ability to fulfill their missions.
“Twenty thousand dollars is not something that’s going to put us dead in the water,” Hayen said. “I think that the SSAB — and I daresay all the agencies here — have probably been pretty austere in what they are recommending.”
Commissioner Jerred McKee said that he hopes to see the KSU Center for Child Development receive their full funding request in future fiscal years.
“That money that’s going to that child development center is going to scholarships for low income families,” McKee said. “To put an infant through childcare is incredibly expensive and I don’t know how they do it.”
Ball also requested that the commission consult the SSAB if they decide they need to cut from the recommended budget.
“I would ask that you give the social services board an opportunity to go back and take a look if we have to cut versus doing a salami slice or just [taking]a percentage from everybody.”
Also seeing increases under Ball’s recommendation are homecare and hospice funding (from $50,000 in 2018 to $50,812 in 2019), Kansas Legal Services (from $35,000 in 2018 to $37,000 in 2019), Shepherd’s Crossing (from $48,632 in 2018 to $50,000 in 2019), and Morning Star Inc., CRO (from $10,014 in 2018 to $12,000 in 2019).
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America would see a slight decrease (from $37,585 in 2018 to $37,000 in 2019).
Special Alcohol Committee
Special Alcohol Committee Board Co-Chair Gabrielle Thompson and Vice Chair Millie Schroeder requested a $10,000 decrease in funding for fiscal year 2019 from 2018.
“This year’s funding considerations led to recommendations that are a slight decrease over 2018 recommendations and approvals as based on projected income — because income was down this year,” said Thompson. “No one got more than a small or slight increase for 2019 recommendations over 2018 and some agencies got a slight decrease in our recommendations over last year’s.”
Agencies seeing no change in budget recommendations include the Manhattan Emergency Shelter, Inc. ($18,000), Riley County Community Corrections Adult Services ($18,000) and Probation Services ($3,000), Sunflower CASA Project, Inc. ($40,000),Thrive! ($10,000) and the University For Man Teen Mentoring Program ($20,000).
Thompson said the Boys & Girl Club would see a decrease in funding, from $20,000 in 2018 to $18,000 in 2019.
“They didn’t get less money recommended because we don’t think they’re program is good, but it’s less specific to alcohol abuse and it’s a matter of our projected funding,” she told the commission.
The Friends of Recovery Association, which provides “affordable, transitional housing for individuals in substance abuse recovery,” would see a decrease as well, from $19,200 in 2018 to $10,000 in 2019.
“With less funding overall, we see that some of our funding should be spread out more heavily to agencies that will be able to serve a larger population,” said Thompson “This organization does very good work, but they tend to do work with a smaller group of people over a much longer period of time.”
The KSU Alcohol and Other Drug Education Services at the Lafene Health Center would see a decrease from $25,000 in 2018 to $10,000 in 2019.
“We think it has a broader access to funding than most of our supported agencies have and we also cannot identify that we are serving primarily people from this community because they serve the entire university community who may be from all over the state and other states as well,” she said.
Pawnee Mental Health combined their grants for therapy and emergency services into one grant request, and would see an increase from $60,000 in 2018 to $75,000 in 2019.
“Primarily this goes to treatment and for people who have no other access to treatment, Pawnee is going to be their resource of last resort,” Thompson said.
Thompson also recommended USD 383 receive the same amount for social work services in 2019 as 2018, totalling $200,000.
“This is what funds a social worker being able to identify that a high school student has an open bottle of gin in their truck and they’re going out on open lunch and drinking it,” said Thompson. “They are the ones that a student would go to who had a problem drinker in their family that they wanted help with.”
Mayor Pro Tempore Mike Dodson asked if it’s the best idea to allocate more than two fifths of their funding toward one program. Schroeder said it is a very appropriate use of the funds.
“The [USD 383 social workers] touch about 5,083 students a year, which is way more than all these other agencies combined,” she said.
Riley County Community Corrections Juvenile Services would also see an increase under the recommendations (from $4,000 in 2018 to $7,000 in 2019) while the Restoration Center, Inc. would see a decrease (from $44,500 in 2018 to $40,000 in 2019).
Manhattan Public Library
Manhattan Public Library Director Linda Knupp requested a funding increase of about $133,000 for fiscal year 2019.
The money will go toward facilities, salaries, collections, utility payments, maintenance and repairs and more.
“[The higher budget] allows for increases in insurance which we find out later in the fall, any changes in family status that may impact that budget and we anticipate another little increase in the employer’s share of [Kansas Public Employees Retirement System] benefits,” said Knupp.
She said that 4.71 percent of the increases go toward salaries, mostly for cost of living adjustments (COLAs) and to add an attendant for their soon-to-be-completed teen center. Commissioner McKee questioned what can be done about the rising labor costs.
“COLAs are important, but we can’t raise the mill every year for COLAs,” McKee said.
Knupp also told the commission the mill will remain under 6, totalling 5.37 mills.
Downtown Manhattan, Inc.
Downtown Manhattan, Inc. (DMI) Executive Director Gina Scroggs requested $78,000 for fiscal year 2019, the same amount they received in 2018.
She said the funding is justified by the measurable growth since the city began investing in the downtown area.
“This is really evidenced by numbers, consistent new business growth, steady job creation, thriving downtown-centered events and purposeful building renovation,” Scroggs said. “We’ve got people living, working and enjoying downtown.”
Since last June, Scroggs said 25 new businesses have opened in the downtown area and 6 existing businesses have expanded.
Additionally, DMI collected $1.9 million in property tax and $75 million in sales tax in 2017, which results in a net gain in revenue for city coffers.
Mayor Pro Tempore Dodson asked Scroggs to consider consolidating under the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce.
“We’re always searching for help when we’re doing marketing and things like that,” said Dodson. “I think there might be some synergy that can be created, whether it be managing [or]coordinating events.”
Manhattan Arts Center
The Manhattan Arts Center (MAC) President Brian Niehoff said they are requesting “basically the same as before, but you’re getting so much more bang for your buck right now.”
The City of Manhattan’s funding would account for 8.47 percent of their annual budget, which amounts to about $38,000.
The MAC has music and other arts classes as well as partners with and sponsors numerous creative events and performances around the city, including cultural performances at K-State and the Third Thursday event in the downtown area.
“We do a whole lot with a little,” Niehoff said. “We do as much as we can possibly do, every time we think of a new program we find ways to fund it whether it’s through donors, whether it’s through sponsors, whether it’s through [ticket sales].”
Commissioner McKee said he recognizes the work MAC board members and staff are putting in to keep the center successful.
“I see the time that you all put in to make sure that those revenue sources are steady and growing,” said McKee “I know that any city money that goes into the MAC, you guys are putting ten fold the effort in your development work.”
Aggieville Business Association
Aggieville Business Association Executive Director Linda Mays requested $60,000 for fiscal year 2019, the same as 2018.
“Aggieville has a very large beating heart and it is very much alive,” Mays said. “It is not just a bar district, but it is an entertainment district where we promote people to come early and stay late because you get an array of attractions.”
Mays said they are focusing on four areas of improvement for the funds. Those areas are landscaping, events, cleanliness and public communication.
“Those four tend to be the biggest things we have to overcome and work on to make Aggieville what it is and what it is going to become,” said Mays.
Commissioner McKee said the prosperity and success of Aggieville is integral to the success of Manhattan.
“You can’t buy an experience online, and so it’s incredibly important for us and the future of Manhattan as a growing revenue source to keep investing in these two districts,” he said, referring to Aggieville and Downtown.
The meeting closed with some commissioner comments. Commissioner Wynn Butler said increased taxes and fees to make up for revenue shortfalls are going to inhibit the city’s growth going forward.
“What troubles me is the appraiser raised the value of property 2.2 percent, the inflation rate is somewhere [between]2.4 to 2.8 [percent], but yet our budget is going up 4, 5, 6 percent? That’s out of wack,” Butler said. “I hear a lot of people talking about why would I want to move to Manhattan and retire here now when you start adding up the county’s levy, the city’s levy, the school bond? — it gets to be totally ridiculous. And if you own a business in town, your taxes are even higher.”
Butler said “it’s time for us to be realistic” and start living within their budget. Commissioner Reddi also cautioned cutting from social services to address revenue and budget concerns.
“This isn’t just a ‘what is the bottom line’ kind of issue,” Reddi said. “If we don’t pay for some of those social services we will see them in jail, we will pay for them one way or another so we better invest in them while we can at the front end of it.”