Following a quiet public budget hearing Monday night, the Great Bend City Council approved the city’s 2017 budget as it was published.
The spending package calls for a mill levy slightly lower than the 2016 budget year, dipping from 48.570 to 48.568. However, the city’s assessed valuation rose from $99,761,454 to $103,270,900.
“We get a few more dollars on that,” City Administrator Howard Partington said.
There is no sewer rate increase, but there could be a water rate hike of around 15 percent. That would help cover the cost of planned bonds to pay for $6 million in water system improvements.
Out of the total $20,909,296 2016 budget, $4,845,332 came from the ad valorem (mill-generated property) tax. This year’s budget calls for $25,517,626 in spending with $5,015,626 from the property tax.
This amounts to a 1.85 percent increase, Partington said. It was an effort to hold spending in check and balance that with providing improvement to city services.
Partington said Great Bend compares favorably to cities of a similar size in terms of debt per capita. The total is $400, which is about the same as Hays and is the second from the lowest.
Among other like communities, Newton has a per-capita debt of about $1,800. At the bottom is Liberal with about $200.
This is important, Partington said, adding that low debt makes issuing bonds easier. “You have to be able to afford what you want to do.”
Later in the meeting, the council adopted the budget and tax revenue ordinances. These two ordinances related to the 2017 budget.
Coming off their tour of city facilities June 13, Great Bend City Council members outlined their goals for the upcoming year as they continued their budget-planning process during a goals session June 21. Among the top priorities were ramping up clean-up efforts, further developing the city’s recreational areas and pay raises for first responders.
The next steps included the budget work session at July 12 and the budget hearing Monday night.