Archive for Thursday, July 14, 2005

Budget maps growth

Council to be asked to approve additional city employees for ‘06

July 14, 2005

The city of Lansing would add four new employees, including another police officer, under a budget plan submitted to the City Council.

The council will discuss the proposed 2006 budget submitted by City Administrator Mike Smith during a study session at 7 p.m. today, July 14, at City Hall, 800 First Terrace.

The plan calls for general fund spending of $3.626 million, up from $3.04 million this year. But because of growth in assessed valuation - which Smith attributes to housing construction and annexation of 1,200 acres of land late last year - the budget calls for a decrease of nearly 1 mill compared to the 2004 city property tax levy. A mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 of assessed valuation.

"The valuation in the city grew by almost $7 million," Smith said. "The city continues to show strong growth."

But it's growth, in part, that's also prompting Smith to seek the four new employees.

Under his budget, Smith is asking the council to approve a new patrol officer, Parks and Recreation employee, museum staffer and wastewater treatment worker.

Top priority for Smith is the Parks and Recreation employee, who would be hired in part so that hours of operation could be expanded to all-day Saturday and Sunday at the Lansing Activity Center. The worker also would be used for maintenance at city parks.

"We have so many more parks than we used to," Smith said, "and we just added another 280 acres of park land."

As for the new police officer, Smith said, "Chief (Steve) Wayman showed me the growth in calls for assistance, the added patrols in the annexed area and the higher number of citations officers have written."

The museum staffer is part of Smith's recommendation for the city to take over the Lansing Historical Museum in anticipation of ultimately converting it into a Regional Prisons Museum. The Lansing Historical Society now operates the museum and has agreed to turn it over to the city.

"We think we can grow it faster under city control," Smith said.

In hiring a museum staffer, the site's hours could be expanded, it could attract more visitors and the city would be eligible to receive grants from the Kansas State Historical Society, Smith noted.

The wastewater treatment operator, whose salary is paid by user fees, not tax funds, is necessary with the expansion of the wastewater treatment plant, Smith said.

Among Smith's other top budget priorities are:

¢ The leasing of five new vehicles for the Police Department

¢ Purchase of a used vehicle for Economic Development/Convention and Visitors Bureau

¢ Purchase of a pickup truck to replace a vehicle in the Public Works/ Community Development departments

¢ New asphalt for the parking lot at Lansing Activity Center.

Smith said the owner of a house valued at $100,000 would see a bill for the city's portion of the property tax levy of 402.23, down $10.89 from a year ago. The levy to fund the budget would go from 36.010 mills last year to 35.063 mills this year.

In all, Smith's eight priority recommendations would cost the city an estimated $209,923.

Smith and the department heads will be on hand at the study session to explain their requests to council members.

Council members are scheduled to conduct a formal public hearing on the budget in August, prior to approval of the spending plan later that month.


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