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Hays’ 2015 budget ‘comparable’ to 2014

hays ks logoBy NICK BUDD
Hays Post

Hays city commissioners were presented with their first look at the 2015 budget during Thursday night’s work session. According to City Manager Toby Dougherty, the 2015 budget is very “routine” and “comparable” to the 2014 budget.

The city is budgeting a total amount of $36 million for the 2015 fiscal year. General fund expenditures have risen $52,000 and revenues are expected to be down by $31,600.

Total expenditures increased $77,600 from last year, but Dougherty says the increase is “misleading” due to transfers of funds and reserves, expenditures and current budgeting laws in Kansas.

“Key aspects of the budget include that it continues to be a balanced budget and we continue to put money into reserves as we do every year.” Dougherty said. “We not only provide a balanced budget but we’re financing reserves. The commission then uses that money to pay cash for capital projects.”

The budget continues to remain at 25 mills at the wish of the commission and there are no new employees. The largest expenditure  is the recent two percent pay bonus for city employees.

“Due to our sales tax projections, we’re a little bit wary of giving a pay increase that would compound so we recommended a bonus that would go away at the end of the year,” Dougherty explained. “We can reevaluate next year if we do have an uptick in revenues.”

So far this year, sales tax collections are on a downward trend with only one positive month to date.

New in 2015 would be the creation of a Commission Capital Reserve Fund.

According to Dougherty, every year the city brings in a little bit more money than needed to operate the city as monies from the sales tax are placed into the general fund levy. This extra money is used to pay down debt and to pay for capital projects and it simply carries over until the commission decides to spend it on capital project such as the 41st Street and airport renovations.

“I’ve always  been a little bit leery of the process.” Dougherty said. “If the commission did not have a big project to spend the money on, the money is carried forward and it shows as an expenditure. That makes the budget look inflated, when extra money isn’t actually being spent.”

The creation of the new fund would allow the city to simply put the unused extra money into the fund. Every three months, an updated figure would be given to city commissioners. They would then decide what amount of money could be placed into a project or they could save the money for a bigger project.

“This way if the commission has a big project, they know how much they have to save in order to pay for that project,” added Dougherty.

The budget also features the same solid waste rate. A couple of years ago after changing to an automated system, the city projected that trash rates would need to be raised in 2012.  Since the city has kept expenses down over those years, no such increase is needed. Dougherty also mentioned that staff will reevaluate the increase next year.

“I can’t promise that there won’t be a (solid waste fee)  increase in the future, but I can say that there won’t be one for next year.” Dougherty said.

Hays city commissioners plan to work on the 2015 budget at their retreat this weekend in Salina and throughout the next month.  At the August 7 work session commissioners will discuss  funding of outside agencies.

A public hearing is set for August 14.

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  • Cut mills

    We’ll never see a mill decrease. The home valuations alone increase our taxes and insurance. This commission always seem to find projects dream up.

  • maryilynb

    I wish the Hays Post would do some investigative journalism and print the total cost of our city leaders going to Salina for an upcoming retreat. think about it taxpayers. is this really necessary? what a waste of our money. i would really like to know what this is costing us. does anyone else feel as angry as i do on this yearly waste of money.

  • This isnt comparable

    How about Departments that generate revenue through some outside sources
    and then deposit that money in to trust funds for use at a later date
    and then use to supplement there own Budgets beyond what the city
    Budgets. What you get is a Department that on paper looks like it is
    operating on a comparable budget to the previous year and one assumes
    that is what it takes to run said Department. When in reality when you
    factor in the excess revenue the Department now spends in addition to
    its Annual Budget or what should be called its Budget is substantially
    more than what the Taxpayer thinks is spent. Another Perk of this
    accounting gimmick is since its generated through an outside source and
    is not technically Collected from the Taxpayers pocket, This money has
    no oversight or far less oversight from the Commissioners and can be spent however and on whatever unchecked. . And is
    pretty well hidden from the public’s eye and not talked about a lot.
    If you wondering to what im referring its the Police Departments Asset
    Seizure Money that is collected and in increasing amounts every year. A
    Trust Fund. If you think you know how much the City is spending on Law
    Enforcement every year, you dont.unless your an accountant or
    extremely gifted. Fact is Crime has substantially increased in this City in the
    last couple of years and well so has the PD’s budget although you wouldn’t
    know it looking at the City’s nifty accounting gimmick. Not saying
    they dont need it, I think they do. Crime goes up you the amount you spend on it goes up as well. But I also think we ought to know
    the dollar amount we spend to Police the City. Are there other
    Departments that employ a similar tactic. I hope not