To keep city mill levy steady, some funding may be cut

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
The Hillsboro City Council approved a 2003 city budget last Thursday that would keep the mill levy steady for property owners, but would result in cuts for a few local endeavors.

The public is invited to discuss the proposed budget at a public hearing set for 4 p.m., Aug. 12, at city hall.

The mill levy proposed for 2003 will be 40.989 compared to 40.977 for the current year.

The part of the city budget that draws upon taxpayer money-called the “ad valorem” portion-will total just over $1.014 million, a 4.8 increase from $968,432 budgeted in 2002.

The 2003 ad valorem portion includes increases for several departments, the largest designated for police, fire, parks and recreation. (See sidebar.)

The 2003 proposal indicates cuts in the administrative budget as well as money allocated for local museums. It also eliminates a line item of $10,900 tagged for “economic development.”

The latter amount is earmarked for the Hillsboro Development Corp. and designated for the Hillsboro Management Board for the purpose of maintaining a downtown office through a consortium of public and private organizations: HDC, Hillsboro Arts & Crafts Association, Marion County Fair Board, Hillsboro Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce.

The money allotted for museums-the Adobe House complex and the Schaeffler House-will be reduced to $12,000 from the $19,000 in the current budget.

Mayor Delores Dalke said the council decided some cuts were necessary in order to fund basic services at an adequate level.

“We have looked at all the departments of the city, and we have had to do a lot of looking at where we’re going to get the money from to continue the services that people in Hillsboro have learned to expect.”

She said in order to keep the ad valorem expenditures in tact, the city shuffled some expenses to utilities that are covered by consumer revenue.

“For instance, some administration (salaries) has been moved to a utility-which probably makes sense because our administrative people work with utilities,” Dalke said. “They may not be out digging the ditches, but they’re doing the billings; they’re taking care of the paperwork.”

She said the decision to cut funds for economic development and museums was not made hastily.

“We have to do basic services, which are police, fire, streets, maintaining the parks, the airport-those are basic functions that we have to take care of,” Dalke said. “We had to look at those things that are not part of those basic functions that governmental units are given to do. That was the reason for (the cuts). It wasn’t that we just singled them out.”

Dalke said the bottom line for the ad valorem portion of the budget-the $1.014 million-cannot be adjusted once the proposed budget is officially published. But the line items within that portion of the budget are still negotiable.

“If there are those who think they should have gotten more, if they can make a case for taking it away from another department, that’s possible to do that until this budget is actually sent to the State of Kansas, which won’t be until toward the end of August.”

She said the purpose of a public hearing is to receive feedback from citizens.

“Everybody is invited to the budget hearing,” she said. “We will be more than happy to hear from anyone who feels their department might need more money than what was in the proposed budget.”

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