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Mill increase will fund city pay raises
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A City of Great Bend street sweeper kicks up a cloud of dust as it makes its way down Odell Street Monday afternoon. The Great Bend City Council held its budget hearing Monday night and is looking at spending for city services. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

Great Bend City Council members indicated Monday night that they wavered on whether to approve an increase of approximately 1 mill in the city tax levy for 2011 or not, and ended up supporting the increase because of a need for city employee raises.
Councilman Dana Dawson said a recent study showed that Great Bend employees, including police, firefighters and EMTs were some of the lowest paid in the state. “We need to get their wages up,” Dawson commented. “I feel a lot better knowing they’re not the lowest paid.”
Councilman Ken Roberts added the recent study showed that Great Bend’s pay was below all other communities checked.
Councilman Randy Myers said it’s not a smart way to do business. The city invests a great deal in training these professionals and then can’t keep them because the pay isn’t available.
According to City Clerk Wayne Henneke, the 1 mill increase would add $11.50 in property taxes, for the year, on a property valued at $100,000.
City Administrator Howard Partington observed that, obviously, the impact would be lesser on a property with a lower valuation, or greater on one that is higher.
Partington also explained that some of the change that is seen in the city budget document did not include all of the figures needed.
Because the budget hearing notice is based on a state standardized document, it did not allow for including reserves and carryover funds that impact the General Fund figures.
According to the state form, the General Fund would see a rise from $10,896,000 in 2010 to $15,382,000 in the 2011 budget.
The 2010 figure, however, did not include those carryovers and reserves, which would bring that total to $15,216,000, Partington reported.
The General Fund will have an increase of $166,000, which is an increase of 1.09 percent, Partington explained.
According to the city’s budget document, the 2011 city budget features a mill levy of 42.348, an increase of less than 1 mill from the 2010 rate of 41.480 mills.
The city’s assessed valuation for 2011 is $93,350,336; compared to $90,319,564 for 2010; and $88,801,988 for 2009.
The mill levy increase was approved with all eight council members voting for it and Mayor Mike Allison opposed.
The budget was approved unanimously.