Archive for Thursday, July 8, 2004

City budget trend much improved, administrator says

City Council holds line on mill levy, puts more dollars into streets

July 8, 2004

A healthier city revenue outlook should mean better and safer streets in De Soto.
Last year as he started preparation on the 2004 budget -- his first as De Soto city administrator -- Greg Johnson was faced with a nearly unprecedented decrease in the city's assessed valuation, the consequences of a reporting error made when filing the previous year's budget with the state, and cuts to the demand transfer dollars the state shares with cities and counties.
The cumulative effect made for some hard choices for Johnson and the De Soto City Council, forcing an early end to the Johnson County Sheriff's Department's popular, and by all accounts, effective power shift that placed an additional patrol in the city for an eight-hour period.
This year, Johnson started with a non-property tax revenue picture that is $192,000 healthier than that in the 2004 budget, thanks mostly to increased sales tax collections. In addition, the city administrator told the De Soto City Council on June 30 that the Johnson County Appraiser's latest update estimated the city's valuation increased 5.5 percent.
The relatively rosy revenue picture gave the Council the luxury of considering adding a few services, Johnson said.
Before moving on with his budget preparation, Johnson asked for guidance on whether Council members wanted to cut, increase or maintain the current mill levy and, if there was a desire to increase services, should he take an across-the-board approach or concentrate on specific departments.
The city administrator said he assumed the resumption of the sheriff's department's power shift would top the list of new spending initiatives.
Council members agreed and came to ready consensus that the current mill levy (24.918 mills for that portion of the city served the De Soto Fire Department and 18.616 mills for the non-fire section) should be maintained and the extra revenue should be concentrated on the street department.
Mayor Dave Anderson said he was in agreement with the Council's consensus.
"There is that discussion about how high the tax levy is, but I counter that we are getting something done," he said. "I'd like to see it come out not as expanding the street department but using it (the money) to fill cracks and potholes."
The Council has work sessions for the 2005 budget scheduled July 14, 21 and 28.

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