Eudora’s proposed 2021 budget would maintain current mill levy, hike utility rates
photo by: Elvyn Jones
A proposed budget that Eudora city commissioners recently approved for publication has utility rate hikes but no property tax increases, and the city manager says it represents a conservative approach to unknowns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The $14.3 million budget plan would maintain the 2020 mill levy at 39.506 mills. At that rate, the city’s share of the 2021 tax bill on a $200,000 home in Eudora would be $909. But while taxes would stay flat, utility rates would not. The proposed budget recommends an 8% increase for the city’s water rates and a 2% hike in sewer fees to cover the cost of infrastructure improvements and operational costs.
In a letter to commissioners accompanying the proposed budget, City Manager Barack Matite wrote that the city continues to benefit from residential growth in the community, which should allow the city to collect roughly $136,000 in additional revenue without a mill levy increase.
Matite also wrote that he and city staff took a conservative approach to the budget because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which he said the community won’t fully understand the consequences of for a while. One challenge the city might face, Matite wrote, would be a decrease in revenue from sales and use taxes. At the time the budget was prepared, those two revenue sources were down 1% compared to 2018 and 2019. The city also had an additional $30,000 in expenses to deal with after forgiving utility late fees during the spring lockdowns, Matite wrote.
Eudora Mayor Tim Reazin said a lot of work has gone into one new line item included in the 2021 budget — increasing police staffing.
“We’ve had a plan and a lot of discussion to get another full-time police officer, so we can have at least two officers on duty on every shift,” he said.
Other highlights of the proposed 2021 budget include:
• A 1% cost-of-living wage increase for city employees and 2% merit pay increases.
• An increase in the hourly rate for volunteer firefighters from $13 to $14.
• Replacement of one police patrol car.
As for the mill levy, Reazin said it has been steady since 2017, when the City Commission raised it by four mills to finance infrastructure needs. That money will go further with a $1.25 million Kansas Department of Transportation grant the city received earlier this month, which will pay for 75% of the street improvements associated with the retail redevelopment on and near the 15-acre site that formerly housed the Nottingham Elementary School.
“We’re thankful for the governor and KDOT for helping us with the improvements,” Reazin said. “The turn lanes on Church Street, sidewalks and curbs and guttering are badly needed. That will free up money for our other infrastructure needs.”
Before the City Commission considers finalizing the budget, it will hold a public hearing on Aug. 10 at Eudora City Hall, 4 E. Seventh St.