Wichita faces three years of budget deficits, official says

Wichita city officials continue to face three years of significant budget deficits, according to a budget planning update Tuesday from the city’s finance staff.

The current budget year continues to run at a $1.4 million deficit, said Mark Manning, the city’s budget officer. And projected budgets for 2014 and 2015 show projected deficits of $3.8 million and $4 million respectively — figures close to those handed out a month ago when City Manager Robert Layton and staff began working through plans for the 2014 and 2015 budgets.

Manning appeared before the City Council on Tuesday to outline some of the city’s priorities as it plans future budgets.

He said the 2014 budget still depends heavily on the city’s property valuation, which has yet to be set by Sedgwick County. City officials are optimistic valuations will grow slightly, according to projections a month ago.

There was no new information Tuesday on how the projected deficits will be attacked, but Layton said a month ago the city will not undertake a hard hiring freeze.

The city’s core priorities — “What is important to the organization?” Manning asked — include ensuring physical safety, protecting property and public infrastructure and city growth.

Off those priorities, Manning said city department heads examine two key questions: Can the city do the same city function more efficiently, with the same results and fewer dollars? Can the city do the same function more effectively, with the same dollars and better results?

The next step for the 2014 budget process is district advisory board meetings June 3 and 6. Layton will propose his 2014 budget on July 16, with a workshop a week later and a public hearing on Aug. 6. The council is scheduled to adopt the 2014 budget on Aug. 13.

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