Corbin H. Crable
No one in the audience at the Aug. 2 Gardner City Council meeting spoke out either for or against the city’s proposed 2011 budget during a public hearing.
The hearing, which is mandated by state law, began and ended with silence after City Administrator Stewart Fairburn briefly explained the highlights of the city’s budget for next year. Fairburn noted that city staff will not receive pay increases for the third year in a row, and that funding for the Southwest Johnson County Economic Development Corp. was slashed from $50,000 to $25,000. He added, however, that the city of Edgerton has agreed to fund the remaining $25,000 that Gardner cut.
Fairburn said the city has seen 20 percent of its full-time employees cut in the past three years, a topic referenced by Gardner resident and former city council member Bob Page before the public hearing began.
“I’m glad to see you let the people go that you did. They weren’t doing anything,” Page told council members, referring to the reduction in force that eliminated six positions in the Community Development Department in early May. “You should have let the (Community Development) people go a year before you did.”
Page addressed the governing body during the public comment period and argued against consolidation of Gardner Public Safety and Fire District No. 1.
Fairburn also told council members that the proposed budget for 2011 includes possibilities for either a 6.5 or 4.5 mill increase. A mill increase of 6.5 would mean single-family households in Gardner would pay the city an additional $12 per month, while a 4.5 mill increase would translate into an added $8 per home, per month.
Other proposed rate increases include a 5-percent water increase and an 8-percent wastewater rate hike. Altogether, that would cost Gardner residents an additional $7 per month.
Local residents still have an opportunity to sound off on the 2011 budget when the council meets for a work session at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 9. The council is then expected to vote on the budget on Aug. 16; the city must submit the budget to the state by Aug. 25.