Roeland Park makes first budget cuts using public’s input

A full house of Roeland Park residents were at the community center to talk about the city budget.
The city council followed many of the suggestions made by the approximately 100 participants in budget town hall this month.

Roeland Park has started whittling back the expected property tax increase in its 2014 budget following recommendations made a public forum earlier this month. The city council Tuesday agreed to publish a budget that trims about three mills off a proposed 10.79 mill increase.

The budget scrutiny continues, City Administrator Aaron Otto said, so more reductions are possible. The city cannot increase the published levy, but it can decrease the amount. The latest version of the budget contains approximately a $414,000 increase in spending for 2014. Roeland Park had been faced with one of the more difficult budget tasks in northeast Johnson County this year and will face more challenges next year when it confronts an expected loss of Walmart sales tax revenue.

A budget forum earlier this month drew around 100 citizens who worked in groups to make recommendations for budget changes. The council’s trims this week followed many of the most popular suggestions from the forum.

The average mill levy cut recommended at the forum was 4.56 mills, but the largest group suggested between 3.0 and 3.9 be cut. Another sizable group only wanted cuts of fewer than 2.0 mills. The areas that were reduced by the council also followed the public’s suggestions. Areas that were reduced included community events, the monthly city newsletter (it remains quarterly), a police vehicle, the design of a Roe Avenue Gateway streetscape, and leaving the assistant police chief spot vacant next year.

The council has several more budget discussions scheduled starting with a July 29 meeting.

The council also signed another lease to rent out third floor space in city hall. Mack Hils, a local real estate firm will take part of the space. A chiropractor has already signed a lease which leaves only about one-third of the space – 875 square feet – still available for commercial use.