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2014 budget hearing on city agenda





Hays city commissioners will host a public hearing on the proposed 2014 budget at their 6:30 p.m. regular meeting Thursday at city hall.

The proposed 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 fourth straight year, and no new employees are scheduled to be hired in 2014.

It was a long process to get to this point, with work on the budget starting in February, said City Manager Toby Dougherty. Department heads turned in their budgets in May, then city staff met with each department. The city received assessed valuation in July, then staff prepared the budget document for the commissioners.

"We work pretty hard on it. We get lots of revisions, making sure the numbers add up," Dougherty said, adding Assistant City Manager Paul Briseno puts in more time preparing the budget. "There's a lot that goes into it."

This is the ninth budget Dougherty has prepared for the city of Hays.

"We've sort of fallen into a comfort. The biggest part was when the city replaced the general fund levy with the sales tax. You are bringing in more money than you are used to bringing in," Dougherty said. "You have to have a cap, a buffer, because sales tax is very volatile. The question was how to manage that cap. You don't want to increase your expenditures right up to it, because what if it goes down?

"You have to manage your expenditures, but you also have a duty to the taxpayers. You can't just stick it all in the bank. You have a duty to collect what you need."

Dougherty said the city tries to be judicious in its spending.

"Right now, when we ask the commission for something from a budget standpoint, we ask them because we need it," Dougherty said. "We're not going to ask for a bunch of stuff just because we have the money here.

"The trick is what's the best thing to do with the extra money."