Danedri Thompson
In a special meeting that lasted less than 15 minutes, city council members adopted a 2016 budget on Aug. 10. Council members had previously discussed the budget at a series of work sessions and at a public hearing.
The budget maintains existing utility rates for water, wastewater and electric. The mill levy or property tax rate will likely remain the same as well, though the county appraiser finalizes specific rates based on the adopted budget.
The proposed $17 million budget sets a maximum amount of expenditures. Council members can always spend less, but they cannot spend more than formally adopted. The $17 million budget is approximately $5 million more than this year’s budget and includes an anticipated bump in revenues due to increased property values and increased sales tax revenues.
In addition, city officials will seek a sales tax increase in a mail ballot. The referendum will ask voters to adopt a 10-year, quarter-cent sales tax to fund road maintenance. The tax would replace a quarter-cent sales tax that is set to expire at the end of this year.
The budget includes $20,000 for the Gardner Edgerton Chamber of Commerce and $35,000 for the Southwest Johnson County Economic Development Council (SWEDC). Initially, city staff proposed a $55,000 for the SWEDC.
One of the largest proposed expenditures in the 2016 budget, $250,000,  is a second phase of staffing merit increases. Other expenditures include $120,000 for a infrastructure analysis, $122,000 for four new police SUVs, and $50,000 to make improvements at the Gardner Senior Citizens Building.