The Gardner City council erected a memorial for the late Rick Poppitz at the desk he usually used when covering the city council meeting for The Gardner News. Poppitz passed away unexpectedly this month. Prior to the meeting, Steve Shute, mayor, held a moment of silence. Photo courtesy of Albert Rukwaro


Albert Rukwaro
Special to The Gardner News
Gardner City Finance Director Laura Gourley presented the proposed 2019-2020 biennial budget during a full council meeting July 16.
Gourley said the budget proposal is anchored on four strategic priorities-promote economic development, improve quality of life, infrastructure and asset management and sound fiscal stewardship.
The budget includes capital projects funded with cash totaling $2.162 million for the two years as well as debt funded capital projects totaling $13.7 million.
In efforts to promote economic development, the budget proposes to diversify the tax base by annexing tax growth areas, expanding business clusters and encouraging tourism. To this end the city intends to expand water treatment capacity, update the transportation masterplan including the I-35 and 175th street planning area, increase funding for development partners and to Gardner Historical Museum and foster innovation including a “wired City” and development of an economic ecosystem.
Under the infrastructure and asset management pillar, the city aims to provide safe, efficient and well maintained transportation networks, police vehicle replacements and a citywide merit compensation and police wage adjustments.
The budget also outlines steps to be taken in improving fiscal stewardship including the development of a cost recovery program, development of asset replacement plans and enhancing performance management.
“The FY 2019-2020 budget represents a thoughtfully developed, longer term commitment to providing resources to continue our mission of Providing exceptional services that benefit and enrich our community,” said Gourley.
She said the budget is structurally sound, as represented by adequate reserves in both tax levy funds and utility funds.
“It is future oriented, including bolstering funding for our development partners and visionary initiatives to enhance tourism, marketing and entrepreneurship,” she said.
Gourley said the budget is fiscally responsible, preserving future funding capacity through a minimal, incremental mill levy increase of 0.196.
“The estimated impact to an average home of $220,000 is 4.96 annually, or 41 cents per month,” she said.