Albert Rukwaro
Special to The Gardner News
The Gardner City Council approved the 2020 budget during a meeting Aug. 5.
Gardner utilizes a biennial budget process, and last year the city adopted a “conditional” 2019-2020 budget. However, the city is required by state statute to present an annual budget.
The proposed 2020 budget was presented to the council on July 17.
During the July 17 meeting, Mathew Wollf, finance director, said there is no significant commercial development revenue included in Gardner’s biennial forecast period, as the associated revenue will lag until anticipated development becomes reality or projects currently under construction are complete.
The city’s taxable assessed valuation increased 8.9 percent, and the 2020 estimated mill levy is 20.720; the same mill levy as FY 2019.
Monies collected will, however, increase due to the increased property valuation.
The expansion of the Hillsdale water treatment plant is one of the major capital expenditures slated for 2020. In the July budget proposals, Wollf estimated the cost to be $21,500,000 for an additional two million gallons per day. That cost has since increased Aug. 5 with the city approving $25,250,000 for a three MGD expansion. The city is expected to issue general obligation bonds for the project.
There is a planned water rate increase of 3.7 percent in 2020. The electric rate changes will be budget neutral in 2020, and there are no planned wastewater rate changes for 2020. The council may alter rates at any time by approval of an ordinance.
The FY 2020 budget includes a citywide three percent merit compensation.
Other key financial highlights included in the budget document include:
Update the Transportation Master Plan, including the I-35 & 175th Street southeast planning area – The Transportation Master Plan update started in 2018 and is expected to be complete by the end of 2019.
• Innovation – “wired city” and “entrepreneurial ecosystem” – Staff is developing an RFP and plans to solicit proposals from qualified firms in 2019.
• Tuscan Farm Residential Development – Phase 1 of Tuscan Farm is anticipated to begin in 2019. Approximately $3.5 million in new public infrastructure is needed to support the project and it will be financed through two new special benefit districts.
• Main Street Market Place – The city established a new Tax Increment Financing District and Community Improvement District to support the new commercial development. The city anticipates issuing CID special obligation bonds in 2020. Improve Quality of Life
• The Gardner Lake Downstream Channel Improvements (spillway) was evaluated in 2018. The design work and construction award moved from 2018 to 2019. The anticipated costs for the spillway improvements are approximately $766,000.
• The design is in progress for Gardner Rd. and I-35 Interchange. The first phase of construction improvements are anticipated to start in 2020. The total project cost increased due to changes in the scope of improvements from approximately $4M to $6M, but the increase will be offset by an additional $2M in economic development funding from KDOT.
• Design work is in process for Waverly from 175th to Madison with construction of the improvements moved from 2019 to 2020
• Police vehicle replacements – Replaced four police vehicles in 2019 and four more are scheduled for replacement in 2020.
• Inflow & Infiltration Reduction Program – The analysis started in 2018 and will continue into 2019.
• Smart Meters – The project moved up from 2020 to 2019. The installation process will begin in 2019, but will not be complete until 2020.