The Great Bend Recreation Commission is seeking to raise its taxing authority from 5 mills to 7 mills.
A resolution to authorize the tax increase was adopted when the GBRC Board met Friday. Director Diann Henderson said a tax increase will be needed by 2015 when employers will be required to provide health insurance to employees working 32 hours a week or more. The alternative is reducing services in the future, she said.
The resolution was passed after the GBRC board held its budget hearing for Fiscal Year 2013-2014. Currently, GBRC adopts a budget using its full taxing authority of 5 mills for its general fund, plus 1 mill for its employee benefit fund. Next year, GBRC anticipates receiving $873,573 in taxes, with other revenue coming from fees, interest and gifts, for a total of more than a million dollars. Along with unencumbered cash, total resources available in next year’s general budget are $2,011,264. Budgeted expenditures are just under $1.25 million, with $544.136 going for personnel.
“We’re going to begin to address the inadequate hourly wage,” Henderson said, adding GBRC is “wage challenged” when it comes to its seasonal employees. The Recreation Commission has 162 employees, including about 117 administrative, supervisory full- and part-time people who work all year and about 45 seasonal employees.
Part-time and season employees are earning $7.25 to $8.50 per hour, Henderson reported. “Some have worked with us five years,” she said. Pay scales are being adjusted incrementally with new hourly wages of $8 to $14 per hour. Examples of job classifications affected are sports officials, facility supervisors, scorekeepers, swimming instructors/aides, enrichment/after-school program staff and general labor.
Looking ahead to the Affordable Health Care Act requirements, if the key provision were in effect today, GBRC would need to offer insurance to 12 additional employees. Henderson recommended increasing the taxing authority by 1 or 2 mills, and the board approved a 2-mill resolution after asking which would be better.
“I think 1 mill would satisfy the immediate need,” she said. “Two mills authority would allow for growth and progression of the system, and you wouldn’t have to utilize the full authority.”
This year, 1 mill raises $152,151 for the Recreation Commission. Henderson said each 1 mill increase would cost the owner of a $100,000 home 96 cents per month. Henderson said GBRC has not increased the mill levy in over a decade.
With the adoption of the resolution last Friday, the earliest GBRC could see added tax revenue would be 2015, Henderson said. In order for the resolution to go into effect, Great Bend USD 428 must also adopt a resolution. After it is published in the newspaper, there will be a 30-day waiting period. During that time, voters may protest the resolution.