Last public hearing on Wichita budget on tap for Tuesday

08/04/2013 1:40 PM

08/04/2013 1:42 PM

The public will get another chance Tuesday to talk to the Wichita City Council about the city’s proposed $543 million operating budget for 2014.

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for Tuesday’s 9 a.m. council meeting at City Hall. The public hearing is the final step before the council’s scheduled Aug. 13 budget vote, and follows several community engagement events to gather citizen input.

According to city documents, the general fund makes up a little more than $214 million of that budget, which does not include internal service funds, grant or trust funds, capital projects or interfund transfers.

Budget highlights include:

•  Contract street maintenance is increased – Thanks to citizen input, an extra $1 million has been added to the contract street work budget, now set at $8 million.
•  Water conservation – The parks budget includes money to convert 400 acres to wildflowers and native grasses, to reduce water usage and mowing. Other water conservation efforts are included in recreation programming, fire and building maintenance budgets.
•  Some fire department equipment has been redeployed – Equipment will be shifted from Station 2 on South Broadway to Station 22 on South Hydraulic, and Station 38 on North 143rd East will house a squad instead of an engine. These changes produce similar response times with six fewer firefighter positions.
•  Transit services remain fully funded through 2014, to provide time for a public dialogue about financing alternatives.
•  Property tax revenue is shifted back to the debt service fund – One mill was shifted from the debt service fund to the general fund in 2011 for economic development. A half-mill was returned in 2013, and an additional half-mill will move back in 2014.
•  City reserves remain unchanged – General fund reserves remain at $23 million, a little more than 10 percent of projected expenditures, in accordance with city council policy.

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