Archive for Friday, April 7, 2006

City alerted to dwindling rainy day fund

April 7, 2006

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The city's primary "savings account" to use for a rainy day will dwindle significantly by 2008 if commissioners continue to spend at their current rate, the city's top financial executive said Thursday.

Ed Mullins, the city's director of finance, told commissioners at a study session that the balance in the city's general fund would shrink from about $14 million to about $2 million by 2008 unless commissioners are willing to consider a spending slowdown or tax increase, or some other revenue growth occurs.

"In three to four years, it largely will be gone," Mullins told commissioners.

The fund balance is accumulated by socking away money that was left unspent during previous budgets. At $14 million, the current fund balance is considered healthy. That represents about 30 percent of the city's total general fund, which is the main account the city uses to conduct daily business.

Commissioners have said they're comfortable with the balance dropping to as low 15 percent of the general fund. But Mullins said his projections show the city will start drawing down the fund for several years instead of adding to it as in the past.

Mullins' comments gave commissioners pause as they considered ideas to tap into the fund balance in 2007 to tackle large projects such as street projects and additional homeless services.

"It sounds like it is going to be hard to do a lot of one-time expenditures out of that fund," Mayor Mike Amyx said.

That could increase the possibility of the need for a tax increase to fund some of the projects that commissioners would like to add to the budget. A tax increase wasn't a popular subject Thursday, but some commissioners wanted to leave the door open.

"It is important to have a budget that is lean and mean, but I think we need to have a budget that meets the needs of the city, too," City Commissioner Sue Hack said.

City Commissioner David Schauner, though, said he wanted staff members to prepare projections to show how much the city could increase its spending without raising the property tax mill levy.

In other budget news, commissioners:

¢ Expressed an interest in adding a city auditor position in 2007. The position, which could report to city commissioners or the city manager, would help evaluate whether city spending programs are operating efficiently and providing the greatest value to taxpayers. The position would be in addition to a financial consultant that the city has plans to contract with this summer. The financial consultant would review the financing options the city has to tackle larger projects, and look for ways to lessen the effect they would have on tax rates. Commissioners don't yet have cost estimates for either of the positions.

¢ Agreed to push back by a month or more the budget hearings related to the funding of outside agencies, such as the Ballard Center, Salvation Army and other nonprofit agencies. Amyx said he still was interested in funding the agencies but wanted to have more time to consider what the financial needs of city operations are before commissioners begin considering outside agency requests.

In the past, the outside agency funding has been among the first items commissioners have tackled. Amyx is proposing that it occur near the end of the budget process, which must be wrapped up by early August.

Consultant sought in city manager search

City commissioners plan to have a consultant hired by May 2 to help with the search for a new city manager.

Mayor Mike Amyx said Thursday that commissioners next week would vote on issuing an official request for proposals from national executive search firms. The firms have expertise in recruiting and would help screen applications for the position, which became open when Mike Wildgen was forced to resign in March after 16 years as the city's top executive.

Amyx said commissioners would meet with the consultant in early May and discuss what they're looking for in the next city manager. Amyx has said he hopes to have a new manager hired by the end of August.

Comments

lunacydetector 9 years ago

so the city commission is spending more than they should so they are going to hire an auditor to tell them to stop spending so much money.

here's some freebie suggestions: stop spending MILLIONS of the taxpayer's dollars on round-a-bouts, $180,000 for case managers for the homeless, $80,000 for flowers (for the downtown only), $30 Million for a library that will be obsolete in a few years (just because Topeka has a nice one), $1.7 Million a year for the M-T Bus line that NOBODY rides, Thousands of dollars on advertising because a business owner said Topekans and Kansas Citians are trouble makers (perhaps because Lawrence is a safe haven or demilitarized zone for gang bangers from those respective cities), and start fixing the damn streets!

Sandman 9 years ago

The label says "Progressive", but the policies say "Tax and Spend Liberal".

Everybody can thank the PLC for the mess we're in.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years ago

What mess are we in, Sandman? Or perhaps I should ask what part of that "mess" was created in the last three years, and not in the previous several decades in which your favorite good ole boys (and a few girls) were running the show.

Richard Heckler 9 years ago

All commissions have spent over budget drawing out of the rainy day addressing unexpected needs such as the 2nd street bump. This is not new. Wildgen was known for keeping a healthy rainy day fund which is a good idea.

cowboy 9 years ago

What part of "no new spending" doesn't this group understand ? Much of the downtown is owned by people who can afford and should expect to upgrade buildings like everyone else has to do every day.

I'd like to see the LJW publish a list of who owns what , We would see the names of Compton , Schumm , and others who should foot thier own bills.

blessed3x 9 years ago

The answer, of course, is more art.

Richard Heckler 9 years ago

Property owners should install sprinklers systems in their private investments not me or my tax paying friends. Fix the 2nd street bump instead.

gontek 9 years ago

Mr Mullins can predict the financial future, don't you know. He is a regular Alan Greenspan, that guy is. If his projections say to save, then you had better put that money into bonds, by gosh.

Rationalanimal 9 years ago

What money crisis? We all just need to relax and realize that dadaism is manning the budgetary helm.

As citizens of Lawrence we should appreciate the brillance of the City Commission. Through dadaism there is no real logical construct to the world, therefore, no real issues to confront, including addressing objective issues concerning basic principles of a modern economic monetary system.

Forget jeriatric Greenspanian economics. Let's build as many $30 million dollar downtown libraries as as possible, more art centers, more parks, no more road improvements, and let the City Commission in 5 years worry about the financial statements requiring red ink by the 100's of gallons.

If we all just focus really hard on a dadaistic financial solution, wompum will show-up at City Hall.

Sandman 9 years ago

The People's Republic of Lawrence Committee has been in for three years now.

Not blaming them for the problems (sewers, roads, financial crunch) would as unfair as not giving them credit for the good things.

This commission has spent freely on studies, roundabouts, and social "feel good" programs - crimping the budget on roads and sewers. If that's what you like, you'll vote for them. But don't be blind to what has occurred.

girly 9 years ago

So they're thinking about raising taxes to replace the fund of 'leftover' rainy day tax money? How about quit spending so much and let it renew itself, this is not a budgeted fund, it's extra tax money. Or so it sounds.

Kelly Powell 9 years ago

Get the girls in the greek houses not to vomit up every meal and we could stretch the sewers' lifespan by another 5 years. And while humor is a great tool with coping with sh!t I would appreciate my elected officials to spend more time actually doing something about our towns problems and less being the butt of well deserved jokes. No doubt this makes me a humourless, bigoted, redneck to some of the posters here, and that they probably feel that I should go back to cooking up meth in my trailer and keep impregnating my sister and whatever else it is that people stereo type the last politically acceptable racial and cultural straw dummy. While i do feel the progressive movement here in lawrence has their hearts in the right place, they have shown themselves in my eyes to be a tad hypocritical and more than a tad pretentious when dealing with the needs and wants of the community.

lunacydetector 9 years ago

to comment to a previous comment from the plumberscrack, i think sue hack is the ariel huffington of the business community -the turn coat if you will. so we have essentially 4 PLC commissioners with one business owner (notice how all 4 either suck or sucked money from the government breast for a living or they work for a non-profit).

lunacydetector 9 years ago

...and as for the business owner commissioner, he needs to refrain or abstain from voting for anything for the downtown that will be paid for by the taxpayers, due to the conflict of interest.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years ago

Looks like the usual litany of making sh*t up and petty name-calling and pretending it's some sort of "insight."

lunacydetector 9 years ago

who made sh*t up bozo? please elaborate.

jwmound 9 years ago

RAINY DAY DREAM AWAY LET THE SUN TAKE A HOLIDAY FLOWERS BATHE AND UH SEE THE CHILDREN PLAY LAY BACK AND GROOVE ON A RAINY DAY WELL I CAN SEE A BUNCH OF WET PREACHERS, LOOK AT 'EM ON THE RUN THE CARNIVAL TRAFIC NOISE, IT SINKS INTO THE SPLASHY HUM EVEN THE DUCKS CAN GROOVE RAIN BURDEND IN A PARK-SIDE POOL AND I'M LEANIN OUT MY WINDOW SILL DIGGIN' EVERYTHING AND UH YOU TOO

RAINY DAY RAIN ALL DAY AIN'T NO USE IN GETTIN' UP TONIGHT JUST LET IT GROOVE ITS OWN WAY LET IT DRAIN YOUR WORIES AWAY LAY BACK AND GROOVE ON A RAINY DAY LAY BACK AND DREAM ON A RAINY DAY

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