The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

July 12, 2012

Pittsburg budget proposal carries spending increase

No change in mill levy posed

PITTSBURG, Kan. — The addition of several new positions without a tax hike are a part of the proposed fiscal 2013 budget that new City Manager Daron Hall presented with an air of economic optimism this week to the City Commission.

The city had reduced staff and services in the past four years in response to the downturn in the economy, but this budget bodes a possible reversal of that trend.

“It’s a good time for Pittsburg,” said Hall. “We’re coming out of a hole.”

Hall’s budget proposal calls for expenditures of $51.7 million, which compare with $48.3 million in fiscal 2012. He recommended the mill levy remain at 45.616.

The commission is expected to take action on the budget on July 24. The meeting is open to the public and will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Beard-Shanks Law Enforcement Center, 201 N. Pine St.

“It’s something I think you’ll be proud of,” Hall told commissioners this week. “I am proud to say that the budget is balanced, at least for now.”

Hall was referring to the unknown variable of requests to be made Tuesday night by the four outside agencies funded in part by the city, and additional requests to be made at the council meeting on July 24.

Proposed new positions would include an innovations director to manage the city’s information technology staff, the automation of the water treatment plant under construction, the city’s geographic information system, and social networking to better communicate with residents.

“It needs way more attention than what we’ve been giving it,” Hall told commissioners.

Two-thirds of the position would be funded by utilities revenue, while one-third of the position would be paid from the city’s general fund.

The city saw a slight decrease in assessed valuation, but an increase last year to municipal court fines and fees meant $250,000 in additional revenue over the 2012 budget.

Using those funds, Hall proposes adding a police officer and dispatcher — positions he said were “critical in providing an adequate level of protection to the community” — and continuing to fund a full-time animal control officer. The latter position was made full time in the 2012 budget.

Hall said the city needed to invest in its 250 employees. The 2013 budget includes a 3 percent pay hike and slight increases in benefits.

The plan was greeted with favor by the panel.

“I know you came here and hit the ground running,” said Commissioner Marty Beezley. “I really appreciate your enthusiasm. I think we’re on the path in getting things really in order at City Hall.”

Hall said he would like to have the budget adopted and published by July 31; Aug. 25 is the final date to file it.

Coordinator

Pittsburg City Manager Daron Hall also proposed an off-budget item, a new housing fund program coordinator to be paid for by the city-administered Presbyterian Housing Fund. That position will be “coming up with some programs so we can treat that like the revolving fund it was meant to be and get some work done that’s desperately needed in the community,” he said.

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