Albert Rukwaro
Special to The Gardner News
Gardner City Council approved the 2019 budget and a conditional approval of the 2020 budget during a meeting Aug. 6.
The biennial 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.
The city prepares a biennial budget proposal, but the council can only approve budgets for one fiscal year but can provide conditional approval for the following year.
Laura Gourley , budget director, said the budget is structurally sound as represented by adequate reserves in both the tax levy funds and utility funds.
“This budget is future oriented including bolstering funding for our development partners and visionary innovation initiatives to enhance tourism, marketing and entrepreneurism,” she said.
The budget increases the mill levy by 0.196. This equates to about 41 cents per month for a $220,000 home.
Gardner’s mil levy has been trending down the past 6 years. Previously, Gurley has told the council the mil levy is 14 percent less than in 2008; she said $3.26 million in taxes had been generated and 10 years ago, and that $3.9 million would be generated with this levy. This represents a 19 percent increase from 2008, but it is less than Gardner’s 52 percent increase in total taxable value.

Gardner Municipal Airport
The council also requested city staff and the airport advisory board to develop a roadmap for the rejuvenation of Gardner Municipal Airport after a report by Michael Kramer, director of public works.
Kramer said inspection reports by the Johnson County Fire department and an environmental consultant indicated that the airport buildings had reached an end of life. There has not been a working toilet at GMA for over a year.
Kramer said the council should decide whether the airport should be self-sufficient or subsidized by city
Lee Moore, councilmember, said the city needs to invest in the airport with the aim of making it self-sufficient in the future.
“Without putting some money in it we will continue subsidizing it,” he said.
He also faulted the city for not doing anything about the inspection reports almost two years after they were presented.
“I’m not aware of anything that has been done on the inspection reports one and half years after they were done,” he said.
When the lease agreement for administration of the airport between the city and the airport board was terminated Dec. 31, 2015, Gardner officially took over management and the Airport Board transitioned into an advisory capacity. The GMA An advisory board was established, which was to meet the second Monday of each month to oversee the airport. However in 2017, the advisory board only met five times, and so far in 2018, there has been one meeting. The last minutes posted on the city’s website are from June 2017. The reason for the majority of cancellations in 2017 was due to lack of quorum. The next meeting is scheduled for August 13.
In other business
Rich Melton, councilmember, implored other members to talk to landowners across interstate highway 35 with an aim of understanding their needs and how to incorporate them in future city developments.
“Let’s talk to the folks on the other side, the landowners and find out what they want,” he said.