GREG LOWER

Chanute city commissioners tidied up budget issues in their last workshop before Monday’s regular meeting.

During the workshop Tuesday evening, the commission reviewed the state budget form, which it will likely consider Monday for publication. Finance Director Cory Kepley said officials do not expect to exceed the Revenue Neutral Rate from last year’s 41.024 mill levy, but they have scheduled an RNR hearing for Aug. 23 along with the regular commission meeting.

Two of the issues commissioners discussed are an increase in water and refuse utility rates. City Manager Todd Newman said the goal is to get utilities in the black and build a reserve for future debt service.

In a discussion of outside agencies, Newman said the city received positive feedback about Saturday night’s fireworks display. He said pyrotechnician Allen Miller, who staged the postponed show, has offered to do it again for the same price next year. Miller will not be able to stage it July 4 because of previous commitments.

Commissioners also discussed priorities of city building repairs and maintenance funded by the quarter-cent sales tax. Although city officials discussed some plans for the Memorial Building, they said the roof structure is in good shape.

Officials discussed a five-year expansion of the city’s fiber-optic broadband system.

Newman said the expansion could reach a point where every neighborhood added would pay for its own expansion within two years.

Mayor Jacob LaRue said he is reluctant to commit to a five-year program and would prefer only a single year. Newman said the plan is laid out for five years, but the commission needs only commit to a year at a time.

As the system expands, Newman said they will need to hire an additional employee for each two neighborhoods added.

Commissioner Phil Chaney said he was disappointed that the new utility does not have a subscription rate above about 25 percent, but other officials pointed to an aggressive effort by private competitors to contract customers.

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