HUTCHINSON, Kan. — The Hutchinson City Council appears to be quite well along in the budget process, as they are attempting to be revenue neutral with their budget, but they will go through the notification process as if they were not able to hold the line on that number, because the X factor, which is valuation changes, is just an estimate at this point.
"Property owners have a period of time to protest valuations," said Interim City Manager Gary Meagher. "Some of that's going on right now. The actual valuation will not come out to us until November 1st. We're working on an estimate. It could adjust just a little bit, but usually the County Clerk's estimates are pretty close."
Since the budget has to be finished and go through the hearing process by August, it's just precautionary to file the paperwork at this point. The city also is due to continue to have a significant ending balance.
"The general fund ending balance is projected to be at $5,355,000, we'll have to subtract $20,000 from that," said Finance Director Angela Richard. "The Hutch Rec proposal for their Healthy Neighborhood position was not in this, so it will be $20,000 less than that is what's projected."
Also, the city's bonding is a little higher than they hoped, but still within parameters.
"You approved the Woodie Seat design, so we'll likely have to include that in our bonding," Richard said. "Our general fund bonding will be about $6.4 million."
More than one city council member expressed their pleasure with the process as led by Meagher.
"I've reviewed over the budget," said councilwoman Sara Bagwell. "It actuall looks like a pretty healthy budget. I don't know if that's because we did have some extra funding, so we were able to fund things a little better this time. I just wanted to thank everybody and the work that they put into it."
Of great value to the council was that Meagher's approach was to ask the department heads to make their cuts with Richard before the budget was presented to the council.
"I had no idea what the process looked like," said councilman Greg Fast. "It seemed pretty easy, as easy as it could be. We did give some direction. I've talked to several of the department heads. They've also said that it went fairly smooth and I thank all of them for that, for working hard to try to help us not raise taxes."
Also, Steve Garza was pleased with the discussions the council had within their own group and spending the nights so that he knows how to explain the decisions that were made to his constituents.