Commissioners approve budget
By RANDY GONZALES
Hays city commissioners approved the 2014 budget at Thursday's regular meeting at city hall.
The 2014 budget is $35.98 million. That is a decrease from the latest estimate on spending for 2013, which is $36.4 million. The adopted budget for 2013 was $38.4 million. The mill levy is projected to remain at 25 mills for the fifth straight year, while valuation is projected to increase 4 percent. A transfer is required to offset requested property taxes. The number of employees is to remain the same in 2014.
"Your 2014 budget is roughly $36 million, or $2.4 million less than last year," Assistant City Manager Paul Briseno said comparing year-to-year budgets. "It is a balanced budget. We do have within this budget a declining sales tax, a negative 1 percent."
Briseno said he hopes to see sales tax rebound.
"We're hoping it will at least end flat, but to be conservative with our establishing, we budgeted negative 1 percent for 2013 and a flat sales tax for 2014," he said. "This budget does contain adequate reserves, which are maintained."
Briseno also told commissioners there is no increase in the solid waste fee, although he said there is the possibility of a rate increase in 2015. He also said there is a recommendation in the budget to pay off the Welcome Center early, to save the city money on interest.
Capital Improvement Projects include: Bike Hays system; 41st Street multi-use path; Union Pacific plaza walking path, as part of Core to Campus; railroad crossing repairs on Vine; airport terminal building improvement; street improvements on 13th street, from Main to Milner; levee repairs and upgrades; metal storm pipe rehabilitated; Big Creek Well Field improvements; multiple water line upgrades.
Briseno briefed commissioners on the four funds making up the budget: general, enterprise, miscellaneous and levy.
The budget has 60 percent of revenues come from sales taxes and 60 percent of expenditures go to salaries.
"Our general fund is unique within the state of Kansas because we rely primarily on sales tax; no property tax is taken as far as general fund," Briseno said.
* In other business, Director of Finance Kim Rupp informed commissioners of the city's new online bill-paying option for city utilities.
City water, sanitation and sewer customers can go to the city's website to pay for services with their credit card from Visa, Mastercard or Discover. Debit cards from those companies that don't require a PIN number also can be used. Customers can start using the bill-paying system today.
'We're very excited, because this product happens to be the most asked for thing customers have been requesting," Rupp said. "We're anxious to get this thing rolling."
Customers also can access their consumption for the past 13 months, as well as view past bills.