Chanute commissioners went line-by-line through a preliminary budget for 2020 Monday evening in the first of multiple planned work sessions.
“More fun to come,” Mayor Sam Budreau commented near the end of the more than two-hour work session.
Finance Director Cory Kepley answered questions and went through several items on the proposal during the meeting.
Kepley said he only got valuations Monday and did not have time to include them, so ad valorem tax revenue figures were not hard numbers.
For the 2019 budget year, the total levy for a Chanute resident was 192.938 mils, made up of 40.823 mils for the city, 37.426 for Neosho County Community College, 48.361 for the county, 63.145 for the USD 413 Chanute school district, 1.683 for the Kansas State Extension service, and 1.5 for the state.
Of the city’s levy, 18.678 goes to the general fund and 11.828 is for city employee benefits. The library levy will not change, but will be 6.218 mils plus 1.12 for library employee benefits. The city collects 2.979 mils for bond and interest.
Kepley said after 2023, the city’s debt will decline from $3.6 million to $1.4 million in 2024. He said sales tax collections are trending the same as in the previous years, but a currently a little behind. The 2019 sales tax collected $1.2 million as of May, and the 2018 total was the highest total since 2010 at $2.9 million.
Comparing Chanute’s 40.823-mil levy to area communities, Humboldt levies 90.718, Fort Scott levies 47.36, Iola levies 48.565; and Pittsburg, Winfield, Parsons, Coffeyville and Independence levy between 51.493 and 54.868 mils.
Police protection costs the average Chanute citizen $193 and fire protection costs $152 per year, figures show. Park service is $41 per citizen and the golf course is $34.
The city has made its final cash payment for employment incentives to Orizon Aerostructures.
The city is also working on sewer system repairs to decrease inflow and infiltration in preparation for constructing a new sewage treatment plant in 2021. Current sewer charges include a $20 I& I transfer fee, along with the $23 sewer base charge and $1.64 storm drainage fee.
City Manager Jeff Cantrell said it is hard to find a year without some major budget item moving on or off. He said there have not been two years back-to-back that can provide a baseline.
Commissioner Phil Chaney said he likes that revenue estimates are conservative while expense estimates are generous. He said a lot of times, a proposed budget looks worse than actual spending.
In discussion on the swimming pool, Parks Director Todd Newman said revenue has been declining for three to four years. Expenses are projected at $260,300, roughly twice the revenue.
Commissioner Tim Fairchild said the city needs to privatize a lot of its real estate holdings and needs to be super-prudent and critical.
Cantrell said an industrial building at 615 W. Cherry, formerly renovated to house Spirit Aerosystems, is the biggest target to privatize. There have been several unsuccessful attempts at selling it to other industrial companies.
Commissioners had various views on what to do with a vacant lot south of Main Street on Lincoln, behind the Chanute Regional Development Authority office. Fairchild proposed selling it and Commissioner Jacob LaRue suggested it as the site of a downtown restroom. Commissioner Eddie Rosenberger suggested using it to expand city parking.
Cantrell said prospective businesses interested in the property wanted to put up metal buildings that were incompatible with downtown.
Commissioners will decide at next week’s meeting when to schedule their next budget work session.