Budget preparations confirm revenue trends
With 29 years experience preparing municipal budgets in four different states De Soto City Administrator Pat Guilfoyle knows what to expect as he crafts his first budget for the city of De Soto.
"Each budget's the same, and each one's different," he said. "Each one's a learning experience, and each one makes me lose sleep. And each one makes me lift a cold beer when it's finished."
The 2007 budget has been on Guilfoyle's agenda since he took over as De Soto's city administrator in March. With the last best estimates from the Johnson County Appraiser available July 1 and the budget approval deadline next month, preparing the 2007 budget now moves front and center on Guilfoyle's to-do list.
The De Soto City Council has scheduled a July 20 work session on the budget. Guilfoyle said he would share with council members what things would look like if they chose to maintain the status quo of a 24.948 mill levy, while pointing to opportunities and challenges down the road.
Out of respect for his new bosses, Guilfoyle said he would wait until they were informed before releasing any specifics about the city's 2007 budget.
"A budget document is first and foremost a policy statement, so I'll take my lead from the elected policy makers," he said.
Guilfoyle is working with a city revenue picture that follows recent trends.
Sales tax revenue sources continue to show the healthy annual increases that have been the norm since the state adopted the so-called streamliner tax in 2003, which collects sales taxes at the point of delivery rather than the point of sale. So far this year, the city's share of county sales taxes is running 8 percent higher than at this time last year and that revenue it receives from its own sales tax authority is up 5 percent, Guilfoyle said.
As for the latest figures for the county appraiser, they show the city's overall assessed valuation has increased 3.5 percent. However, that good news is offset by another slide in assessed valuation of that part of the city served by the De Soto Fire Department. That part of the city, primarily old-town De Soto, saw a decrease in valuation of 2.95 percent.
That re-established a four-year trend that was arrested last year with the end of a 10-year abatement for Huhtamaki Americas, which increased the city fire district assessed valuation by $4.8 million last year.
To help address that issue, the city council requested and received the detachment of the Arbor Ridge subdivision, which will eventually provide another 213 homes to the tax base of the De Soto Fire Department.
The city's personal property assessed valuation also declined, which Guilfoyle attributed to the Kansas Legislature's action this spring to start a phase out-of-business personal property.
Like his predecessor Greg Johnson, Guilfoyle is puzzled why the state requires cities to adopt budgets five months before the start of the year. Asking around, Guilfoyle said he was given the unsatisfactory answer that, "It was always done that way."
Still, Guilfoyle said that situation is far better than the one he left in New Jersey. With that state's headline-grabbing budget deadlock, cities are forced to approve monthly temporary budgets while they wait for required state approval of their 2006 budgets and resolution of how much money they will get from the state.