City discusses staffing shortages and noncompetitive salaries as 2022 budget talks continue

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Staffing shortages, noncompetitive salaries and unreliable revenue sources
Staffing shortages and noncompetitive salaries were among the top issues discussed during the Manhattan City Commission’s 2022 budget work session Tuesday.
Department heads spoke about the difficulty of competing with the private sector and other municipalities while attempting to retain employees and fill open positions.
Public Works director Robert Ott provided an example of this happening with a water treatment plant operator.
      Ott
City attorney Katie Jackson claims her department has recently experienced similar issues.
She also says the number of employees in her office has not increased since she began working there nearly 20 years ago.
      Jackson
The city intends to pursue a pay study later this year to counter these issues as part of its Organization Excellence Initiative.
As the meeting progressed, most of the departments appeared to also share the desire for the General Fund to have a more reliable revenue source.
Deputy city manager Jason Hilgers says the city needs to rely more on more property taxes as a revenue source for the general fund.
      Hilgers
He says the only part of the approximately $30 million General Fund that the city can rely on is the portion that consists of $10 million in property taxes.
      Hilgers
The city currently relies heavily on sales-tax revenue, which Hilgers says has stagnated in recent years.
Fire Station
The Manhattan Fire Department is considering pursuing a feasibility study for a new training center.
The current training center sits on K-State property at the Kimball Ave.-Denison Ave. intersection as part of an agreement between the university and Manhattan that runs through 2034.
However, K-State can reclaim the property with at least a one year notice and is currently considering doing so.
City manager Ron Fehr says that while the location made sense when the building was first constructed, the vision for the area has changed with the development of the North Campus Corridor.
      Fehr
Mayor Wynn Butler says he does not want to see the building relocated.
      Butler
If a feasibility study were to be conducted, it would be part of the 2022 budget as a Capital Improvements Program project.
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