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City of Ellinwood begins consideration of sales tax increase
City sets budget hearing timelines
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ELLINWOOD — At its monthly meeting Tuesday, the Ellinwood City Council addressed numerous issues relating to the city’s budget and revenue, including discussions on a potential sales tax increase.

Ellinwood City Administrator Chris Komarek said the city is looking into the possibility of a sales tax increase as a means to increase revenue without increasing property taxes. The purpose, he said, would be to use the additional funds to address critical infrastructure issues in the city.

The city already has a half-cent sales tax, Komarek said, and is looking at an additional half-cent. Komarek estimated the increase would bring in about $80,000 per year. The funds, he said, would go primarily to addressing street, curb and gutter repairs.

Discussions on the issue are still preliminary, Komarek noted. If the council decides to move forward with the issue, the question would go before Ellinwood voters on the Nov. 2 ballot.

The council will need to make a decision on the issue quickly, because if it decides to move forward with the sales tax increase, the city would have to notify the Barton County clerk by early September so the question can be placed on the ballot.

The council will continue discussion of the issue at a Wednesday, July 21 work session scheduled Tuesday to discuss the proposed 2022 budget. Komarek said he hopes to have the issue formally decided at the council’s Aug. 10 regular meeting.

In regard to the upcoming budget process, the council also voted Tuesday to approve a resolution to exceed the Revenue Neutral Rate for the 2022 budget year.

While Komarek does not anticipate the city will actually need to exceed the RNR as defined by Kansas Senate Bill 13, he noted passing the resolution is simply a precautionary measure.

The city’s anticipated tax rate for the upcoming budget year is 53.589 mills, up 0.01 mills from the 2021 budget. With current estimated valuations, this would result in a nominal revenue increase of $104. Komarek said the notification to exceed the RNR is to allow the city to remain in compliance with SB 13 should final property valuations in November rise from what is currently estimated.

The intent to exceed the RNR will now be submitted to the Barton County clerk, and by law the city must now hold a special public hearing on the issue. This hearing is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 23.

Ellinwood City Council at a glance

Here’s a brief look at other business from Tuesday’s Ellinwood City Council meeting:

• The council recognized Water Department employee Nathan White for five years of service.

• The council voted to retain the services of Terrane Resources to address repairs needed to one of the city’s water wells, Well #5, due to an increase in manganese levels. This option was preferred to drilling an entirely new well, which would have run up to $200,000.

• The council voted to move forward with the condemnation of the dilapidated structure at 307 W. 2nd St. A public hearing for the issue was set for Friday, Sept. 14.

• The council held two separate executive sessions, one for discussion of non-elected personnel and one for discussion of acquisition of property. No action was taken following either executive session.

• The council voted to give the owners of the property at 211 East E St. an additional 30 days to address clean-up issues with the property. The owner ran into problems meeting the city’s initial 30-day deadline. The issue will be readdressed at the council’s Aug. 10 meeting.

• City Administrator Chris Komarek updated the council regarding the city’s use of $294,000 of American Rescue Plan Act funds it will receive over the next year. The council discussed potential uses for the funds, which must be used within three years of receipt.

• The council voted to accept a bid by Utility HelpNet Inc. to replace two relays on the Municipal Power Plant’s switch gear at a cost of $11,980.

• The council tabled action regarding testing the power plant’s engines in order to obtain additional prices in regard to completing the testing which must be completed by February 2022.