City of McPherson holds 2018 budget hearing

By KBBE News
August 07, 2017

For the 2018 proposed budget, the City of McPherson was able to hold the mill levy to the same as the 2017 adjusted mill levy level by examining and holding down expenditures wherever it could. The public hearing notice for the 2018 Budget Hearing was published on July 25, 2017. The Budget Hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday August 7, 2017 at the Municipal Center. Anyone who is interested may speak at that time. By law, once the budget has been published in legal form, the budget cannot be increased. However, after taking input at the public hearing, the commission could choose to decrease the budget.

The 2017 budget authority was $43,627,339, with a mill levy of 51.608. This budget authority includes expenditures for all funds that derive their source from various user fees, ad valorem taxes, sales taxes, reserves, and other revenue sources. During the 2018 budget process, the city commissioners revised the 2017 expenditures to actual spending level of $24,230,300. They are looking at a 2018 budget authority of $55,478,287. Though this appears to be significant increase over 2017 budget authority, most of that increase is due to an anticipated heavy year of projects in non-ad valorem funds including large projects in sales tax funded streets, storm water utility funded projects, and sales tax funded community building improvements. The 2018 budget will be funded by an estimated mill levy of 51.618 which is slightly higher than the 51.337 average of the last ten years, but is the same as the adjusted mill levy for 2017 (51.618). This mill levy still allows for anticipated increased costs of a fully staffed police department, three (3) new fire department positions (partially grant funded for three years), KPERS and KP&F retirement, health care insurance costs as well as other various expenditures. All general fund departments with the exception of law enforcement and fire departments as well as all other levied funds were in compliance with the Kansas Tax Lid requirement for limiting growth to a 1.4% of the preceding five-year average change in the consumer price index as published by the US Department of Labor (K.S.A. 79-2925c).

Estimated assessed valuation for 2018 is $124,572,983, up from the $118,889,758 estimated assessed valuation in 2017. New improvements within the city limits of $1,527,447 helped to result in an increase of 4.6% of the expected 2018 assessed valuation over the prior year.

Work on the proposed 2018 budget began in April, according to City Administrator Nick Gregory. Department heads were responsible for projecting the next year’s revenues and expenses. In May, June and July, the commissioners prioritized the requests and developed the budget. “The 2018 Budget preparation as in the past years was an exercise in prioritizing the most essential needs within the city organization as well as insuring compliance with the state mandated tax lid. Department heads brought focused lists of needs, and the City Commission went through a painstaking process to consider and review all requests. In an effort to maintain a flat mill levy, only the most critical needs were funded for 2018 Budget.” Gregory also pointed out that “Everyone is striving to operate as efficiently as possible.”

“In McPherson, we have a history of holding the line on our mill levy over the years and did so again this year.” Gregory further believes that “our local elected officials have been good stewards of our taxpayer resources. As anticipated the tax lid made the 2018 Budget one of the most difficult in my tenure as City Administrator and we expect compounded difficulties as we prepare for the 2019 Budget next April. There will be even more difficult decisions and intense prioritization to be made by the City Commission in future years that may result in delayed equipment replacements and reduced overall services. All departments are being asked to evaluate during 2017 and 2018 those services, functions, and other expenses that can be adjusted if required to do so in 2019”.

In summary, the City has held a tight rein on the mill levy gain this year, as this year’s budgeted mill levy is at the same level as the 2017 adjusted mill levy and up only 0.281 of a mill (or 0.547%) over the 51.337 mill levy average of the last ten years.

Specific budget information is available at the office of the city clerk and also will be available at the budget hearing.