It’s not just summer. It’s budget season, too.
Memorial Day weekend doesn’t only signify the start of longer days, warmer temps and vacation from school.
In Kansas, the summer solstice also ushers in budget season. All local taxing entities in Kansas, including cities, counties and school districts must have their budgets published and submitted to the state no later than Aug. 25 by state statute.
Prior to press time of this paper, the Kansas Legislature was working overtime to adopt next year’s state budget. With a gaping budget hole to fill and disagreements on whether to cut spending — and furlough state employees — or increase revenues by raising taxes, the session looks like it could stretch into July. It was supposed to wrap-up prior to June.
Typically, councils and school boards spend their summer meetings discussing budget initiatives for the following year. This year, those conversations are starting earlier and may last longer.
In Gardner, discussions began in earnest on June 1. Council members discussed potential budget priorities for next year. They briefly touched on a planned project to spend $700,000 to upgrade West Side Ball Park and the possibility of attempting to find funding for a law enforcement center complete with municipal court.
Most spending decisions haven’t yet been made, but the rheotoric may heat up faster than the temperatures this year.
Due in part to the challenging nature of the current economy, school boards and city governing bodies will likely take an extra long look at ways to balance the budget. And many will seek additional public input.
Taxpayers should take extra interest this year. Funding is already tight in home budgets. And it’s about to get tighter.
And city and school officials haven’t been shy so far in considering dramatic tax increases.
Last month, the Gardner council decided to seek voter approval for a sales tax increase to be used for street maintenance.
Take the time to relax and enjoy the summer, but keep your eyes on what’s happening in city hall and school district offices. They’ll be deciding how much and how they’re going to spend your money next year in the upcoming months.
Stay tuned.