Mission’s proposed budget would use this year’s excess revenue to cover some 2019 expenses

Mission’s proposed 2019 budget, while unbalanced, takes advantage of excess funds from this year to accommodate some of next year’s expenses, city staff reported last week.

City administrator Laura Smith presented the proposed budget during a community dialogue at the July 18 council meeting.

Mission’s recommended overall budget includes $22.1 million in revenues and $23.8 million in expenditures. Cities are required by Kansas statute to submit a balanced budget; however, city administrator Laura Smith told the Mission council that the city “was able to take advantage of excess fund balance” in the 2019 budget to help spur some supplemental programs.

City staff proposed budgeting $684,852 in capital equipment and vehicle purchases, including federally-mandated replacement of the police department’s radio system as well as replacement of three 2006-model public works trucks. These expenses are “probably the biggest driver” to Mission’s imbalanced budget, Smith said.

In lieu of the Northeast Animal Control Commission, which plans to dissolve by the end of the year, Mission also plans to operate its own animal control beginning this year. Total costs, which includes hiring two community service officers, is $217,785, another factor driving the imbalanced budget.

Mission plans to offset some of these costs by offering animal control services to the five former cities of NEACC, generating roughly $61,000 in contractual fees.

Other supplemental programs on the docket include:

  • DirectionFinder Survey for $16,000
  • Update of Comprehensive Plan, including $110,000 for the plan update and $30,000 for an additional market study
  • Parks and Recreation Marketing Services for $30,000
  • Part-time Fitness Coordinator at the Community Center for $25,000

Smith added that submitting an unbalanced budget is “certainly not ideal and not a practice that can be sustained.”

The proposed budget includes no recommended tax increases for 2019, but does include a 3.8 percent increase in solid waste fees, totaling $6 for residents annually. Mission also plans to maintain the same mill levy of 17.973 mills for 2019.

Smith said Mission’s assessed valuations increased by 13 percent, to $157 million. The city’s assessed values have been “slowly recovering” from 2008 to 2013; just last year, Mission recovered to the same values it had in 2007, about $140 million.

Sales and property taxes generate nearly half of the city’s general revenue; roughly 60 percent of general expenses cover personnel costs. As such, the city’s biggest expense increase in 2019 is an additional $778,000 for personnel expenses, 8.9 percent more than this year. These include the Mission Police Department’s two new community service officer positions as well as a budgeted public works position that was “inadvertently dropped out” of last year’s budget. The additional personnel expenses also account for increased health insurance and benefit costs.

Another increase in 2019 is an additional $700,000, an 8 percent increase from this year, to cover contractual costs for the city’s major development projects as well as funds to undergo Mission’s comprehensive update, which was last completed in 2007, Smith added.

Councilmember Ken Davis inquired about the fluctuation in contractual and inspection fees. Smith said most of those expenses are recovered by contractors with the city, adding that those fees will potentially drop back to lower levels in 2020.

The city’s budget for debt service also decreased, as Mission gets closer to paying off the new street lighting system. City staff proposed budgeting $203,000 this year toward debt service, about $74,000 less than last year.

Mission has also rebuilt its “rainy day” fund by maintaining 25 percent of annual revenues in the general fund as a fund balance, with an extra $1 million.

A public hearing is set for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 1, and Mission council is scheduled to adopt the final 2019 budget Aug. 15.