Archive for Thursday, May 6, 2004

Early budget calls for no tax increase

City to begin budget deliberations this month

May 6, 2004

If a preliminary 2005 budget resembles what is passed in August, the Basehor City Council will have maintained the mill levy at 28.639 mills for the third consecutive year.

On May 17, City Council members and city staff will meet for the first of four scheduled work sessions to discuss the 2005 budget.

A preliminary budget submitted to the City Council calls for no mill levy increase in 2005 and keeps the majority of fees constant between 2004 and 2008, Basehor city treasurer Baron Powell said.

"It is a budget that doesn't in any way, shape or form increase any fees or taxes yet is still sufficient to cover the city's day-to-day operating expenses," Powell said.

It also allows department heads to purchase equipment and hire personnel they need to accomplish their work.

However, although the budget holds the line on taxes, it does not leave much room for the city to stockpile a surplus of money to help pay for expensive projects on the horizon, Powell said.

"It ignores some of the major projects we know the city is going to have to take on in the future," he said.

Some of those projects include the possible expansion of the city's wastewater treatment facility, improvement of main collector roads and the land acquisition and construction for a new Basehor City Hall. Using rough estimates, those projects could cost a total of $23 million.

Basehor city administrator David Fuqua said the City Council requested the budget be prepared to keep tax increases at a minimum.

"That's the City Council's directive," Fuqua said, "to try and save where we can and cut back where we can.

"They're thinking be as frugal as possible knowing that larger expenses are down the road. You're looking at several million dollars the city just doesn't have right now."

Powell said the budget he's prepared accomplishes the city's goal of maintaining a low tax rate.

"The fact is Basehor's taxes are the lowest of any city within 20 miles of here," he said.

The early budget reduces sewer rate increases from the previously projected 4 percent from 2004 to 2012. It maintains the sewer increase at 4 percent in 2004-05 but reduces monthly bills to 3.5 percent in 2006-07, 3 percent in 2008, 2 percent in 2009-10 and .5 percent thereafter.

The budget also provides $130,000 between 2004 and 2008 to support recreational activities in the city. City Council president Julian Espinoza, who is negotiating an alignment between the city and the non-profit Basehor Athletic Association, requested funds be set aside for youth activities.

The preliminary plan also budgets $390,000 over the next four years to pay for consulting and special studies concerning future planning.

The city began the budget process in February and must conclude its deliberations by Aug. 25, when the 2005 budget is due to the Leavenworth County Clerk's Office.

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