Archive for Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Some decisions made on casino funds

May 30, 2012

The Bonner Springs City Council this week made several decisions that will affect the 2013 budget, including how to use its portion of casino revenues.

The council met in a budget retreat Thursday evening and then made some final decisions following its Tuesday regular meeting. They decided to use much of the 2012 casino revenues for smaller capital improvements and no more than half of the casino revenue they are projecting in 2013 to support the city’s daily operations.

John Helin, city manager, reported that casino revenues have continued to decrease. The city will receive about $44,000 for April, after receiving $78,000 for February.

So, the city is budgeting conservatively, estimating $40,000 in revenue each month to total $410,000 this year and $480,000 in 2013. Now, it was up to the council to determine how to use the funds.

The council first approved other 2013 changes: a $6,600 health payment incentive plan, as similar plans have been shown to help reduce insurance costs; a system to increase pay for city employees to bring them in line with average payscales for this area, and re-establishing cost-of-living and merit-based salary increases, both of which would start in July and cost about $13,000 this year and double that in 2013.

City staff first addressed the 2013 budget without using any casino revenues, maintaining current spending levels and tax incomes, reducing city use and sales tax revenues by 3 percent and increasing county use and sales tax revenues by 5 percent. Fine collections also were estimated to be $38,000 lower next year, and the city also took into account increasing health insurance costs and property and liability insurance costs.

All of this added up to a $280,000 shortfall for 2013.

To make that up, the council first decided what it would do with casino revenues. While Helin has long promoted using the unreliable revenue source for capital projects and not for daily operations and maintenance, he said that it would be necessary at least in the near future.

So the council approved his suggested policy of using no more than 50 percent of casino revenues for operations and maintenance, reserving the rest for capital improvement projects.

Approval of that policy meant $240,000 of projected 2013 casino revenues could be used to address the budget shortfall.

The council also discussed the use of this year’s estimated $410,000 in casino revenues. Helin suggested several small capital improvements, but $31,700 would remain. The council voted Tuesday to put those funds toward the 2013 short fall as well.

Other approved uses were:

• Increase contingency funds: $75,000

• Salary adjustments: $13,000

• Replacement truck for public works: $30,000

• City Hall new server: $10,500

• Computer replacements (32): $44,800

• Lions park sidewalk: $5,000

• Additional street improvements: $200,000

Some mill levy increase may still be necessary to cover the $8,300 left in the shortfall as well as a $20,298 shortfall in the library’s operations. City staff estimated property taxes would have to increase by .327 mills to cover the library’s shortfall.

The council will continue its budget discussions in a meeting July 10.

Approval of the merit pay system was contingent upon a demonstration of the software used within the system at a future council workshop. Several council members said they were wary of merit-based pay increases. Watch for more about this item in The Chieftain as the council continues its discussions.

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