- Higher water, sewage rates to increase revenue stream (08-07-07)
- City budget shortfall puts skate park addition on hold (08-01-07)
- T hours likely to be cut
- Pool fee proposal revised (07-24-07)
- Developer seeks expansion into city parking lot (07-24-07)
- Numbers still fuzzy on city budget (07-16-07)
- Amyx sees sales tax as road rescue (07-17-07)
City Hall reporter Chad Lawhorn will provide live coverage of the city budget, the Wal-Mart debate and more, tonight at 6:35 p.m.
City commissioners tonight may back off their plans for cuts to the Lawrence Transit Service.
City Commissioner Mike Amyx said Monday that he is willing to retreat from a plan to close the T at 6 p.m. instead of its current 8 p.m., but only if commissioners cut $600,000 elsewhere in the budget to avoid a 0.425 mill levy increase.
He said commissioners also need to commit to putting a new half-percent sales tax on the ballot, preferably by April, to fund street maintenance.
"We need to be planning for the future," Amyx said.
Commissioners meet at 6:35 tonight at City Hall to finalize the 2008 city budget.
Two weeks ago, commissioners were split over cutting T hours to save money.
"The budget direction we gave at our last meeting was the single worst decision we have made since I've been on the commission," said Boog Highberger, a second-term commissioner. "The transit cuts in the long run will cost us a lot more than we'll save."
On Monday, Highberger said he was still contemplating Amyx's plan.
Mayor Sue Hack said Monday she also had some concerns about Amyx's plan, but said it was food for thought.
Amyx is suggesting the cuts come out of the city's street maintenance budget, which is scheduled to be about $5.4 million in 2008. But he wants a five-year half-percent sales tax to accelerate street maintenance starting in 2009.
However, commissioners would be taking the action without knowing whether voters will approve the new sales tax.
"It is a big gamble, but I don't think we can even attempt to adequately address many of the problems we have with streets and infrastructure without an additional revenue stream," Amyx said.
City Manager David Corliss said he would suggest the city take the $600,000 out of an equipment reserve fund that has been earmarked for future public transit bus purchases.
The city will need to purchase 12 buses in the near future to replace the current fleet of transit buses as they reach the 350,000-mile mark. Each new bus is expected to cost about $320,000.
The city already has received federal money to help purchase six buses, but the grant requires local matching funds.
Corliss said using the reserve money would make it more difficult for the city to purchase buses next year. Commissioners may be willing to make that trade-off, though, because most support merging the T with Kansas University's bus system.
City leaders estimate a new half-cent sales tax would generate about $6 million per year.
Amyx is proposing that $5 million per year go to street and sidewalk programs. The remaining $1 million would be used to improve infrastructure for future industrial park development.