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City Council OKs 2016 budget
Spending plan calls for a slight mill levy increase
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 In other business Monday night, the City Council:

• Heard a report from Community Coordinator Christina Hayes on the 2015 Party in the Park. She termed the event a success and has heard a lot of positive feedback about the third-annual party.

• Approved abatements at: 1308 Morphy St., accumulation of refuse, owned by Joseph Farris, attention Tricia Viegra; and 2311 Polk St., Motor Vehicle Nuisance, owned by Richard and Glenda Zimmerman.

• Approved closing the west-bound lane of 17th Street Terrace from McKinley to K-96 from 5 a.m. to noon on Oct. 10 for a 5K race and half marathon sponsored by the Barton County Young Professionals.

• Set 7:30 p.m. Sept. 21 as a the time for a public hearing on the proposed Rural Housing Incentive District for The Fairways at StoneRidge. Between now and the hearing date, the development plan will need to be completed, City Administrator Howard Partington said.

• Authorized overnight camping at the Great Bend Municipal Airport from Sept. 18 to the 20 during the 2015 Airfest at the request of airport Manger Martin Miller. This would allow volunteers from Boy Scout Troop 157, World War II ground troop re-enactors, and several of the fly-in pilots and their passengers to stay on Airport grounds during the event. Miller said they are prepared to provide the necessary facilities to accommodate their needs, 

• Accepted the council’s Administration Committee recommendation to approve the 2014 annual audit report as presented by Adams, Brown, Beran, and Ball. The committee met Aug. 3 to hear the report and unanimously voted to forward it on to the full council.

The city received a “clean” or “unqualified opinion” on the 2014 audit. This is the highest possible opinion possible, ABBB representatives said.

• Adopted the Generally Accepted Accounting Principals waiver for 2015 financial statements resolution. This is done annually since the city operates on a cash-basis accounting system.

• Voted to hold the next regular city council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 8. The regular Monday date falls on Labor Day.

 To keep pace with infrastructure needs and goals set by the City Council, the 2016 City of Great Bend budget includes a 1.32 mill levy. The budget was OKed by the City Council following a public hearing Monday night.

The spending package calls for a total of $25,035,000 from a tax rate of 48.588 mills. That dollar figure comes to a 1.2 percent over 2015.

Looking at the last two years, the total was $24,674,812 on 45.803 mills in 2014 and $20,751,000 on 47.271 mills in 2015. One mill is equal to $1 of tax per $1,000 of property valuation.

The lion’s share of the city’s revenue, 24 percent, comes from property taxes. County and city sales taxes account for another 25 percent. The rest comes from a mixture of fees, fines and other taxes.

“I think we’re fairly balanced,” said City Administrator Howard Partington. 

In preparing the budget, city officials eyed the goals set by the council, including making the city safer and drug free, promote new housing development while razing dilapidated structures and making the Convention and Visitors Bureau more responsive to the city. Also high on the priority list was improving streets.

Partington outlined some of the things that have already been done. Among these were as getting a new drug dog, the Reserves at Trail Ridge Apartments and the Amber Meadows development, and improvements to the Events Center to accommodate the CVB.

There are other projects in the works to improve recreational venues in the city, better equip the Police Department and make the city more attractive. But, “we’ve tried to be conservative over time,” Partington said.

They are looking at setting money aside for future endeavors, both that they know are coming and to be prepared for the unexpected.

The budget has already undergone much consideration, including a tour of facilities and council goal-setting session. Most recently, the council held an over two-hour budget study session July 15.  

During that meeting Partington discussed the 2016 budget as presented. He explained the emphasis of the budget on fulfilling the goals set by the council as well as revenue sources and 2016 proposed expenditures. 

Recommended was the 1.32 mill increase. The mill rate increase is due to increasing costs in operations and decreasing revenue in the Special Street Fund, City Administrator Howard Partington said.

An employee’s salary moved to the general fund to balance that account. The state-mandated Special Street Fund is funded with revenues from the state through the gasoline tax, a number that has been in decline. The city has used up most of our cash carry over in the past two years.

Money for street repairs also comes from a city sales taxes of .5 percent passed in 2001 and .25 percent passed in 2008.