WICHITA — The city will cut its planned $2.5 million increase for street maintenance because new financial projections show cash flows are down even more than expected.
That means the overall quality of the city's streets will decline over the next year. It's unclear whether a planned $10 million boost to street repairs in next year's budget will survive as the city eyes continued lagging revenues, particularly in sales and gas taxes.
Overall, the city now faces a roughly $900,000 shortfall. It hopes to make up for that with cuts to street maintenance and other programs. It may save some money because fuel prices remain lower than the city had expected. But a major snow storm or flooding this year could make the deficit worse, forcing the city to tap reserve funds.
Vice Mayor Jim Skelton, who has long advocated for more street repair funding, grimaced at the cut and asked whether the city could slow the pace of buying new cars in the city's fleet.
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City Manager Robert Layton said that if the city delays maintenance or replacements, it could end up costing more because delayed maintenance drives up the cost of repairs and delayed new vehicle purchases can lead to lower value on the cars the city trades in.
Layton said if city cash flows show any unexpected improvement or if other savings can be found, he would look into putting it back into the street repair fund.