Lynne Hermansen
Special to The Gardner News
The Revised 2021 and 2022 city budget was presented at the May 17 Gardner City Council meeting..
Matt Wolff, finance director, said the budget calendar has changed because of Kansas’s new Senate Bill 13 known as the Truth in Taxation Bill.
“ It impacts the 2022 budget, “ he said.
SB 13 establishes notice and public hearing requirements prior to approval by a governing body to exceed its revenue neutral rate for property tax purposes and discontinuing the city and county tax lid, prohibiting valuation increase of real property solely as the result of normal repair, replacement or maintenance of existing structure, establishing a payment plan for the payment of delinquent or nondelinquent property taxes and establishing the taxpayer notification costs fund.
Wolff said it is recommended to hold a revenue neutral rate hearing if the city exceeds or maintains it. The RNR is calculated in June, he said.
Wolff said the county clerk would have to be notified by July 20 and a public hearing held between August 20 and September 20 to have the budget in by October 1.
“The RNR public hearing and budget public hearing can be held the same night, “ he said.
Wolff said the other part of the revised budget is for the Gardner Cemetery’s salary increases and new computers and software requests.
Wolff said they will really dig into budget policies at their June 21 meeting.
Steve Shute, mayor, said it doesn’t include the inflation factor and the additional tax revenue gained for a new subdivision would penalize Gardner for the additional revenue stream.
Wolff said it would reduce the taxes on a household but put a strain on the city.
Shute said he wanted to know how growing the city would be an incentive and about TIF valuations.
Wolff said that’s what shocked him.
“ It doesn’t automatically capture that, “ he said.
Randy Gregoryck, council member, said he wanted to know about and how Internal Revenue Bonds were affected.
“Are there a list of levers we can use for incentivizing while we collect the fruits of those incentives, “ he said. “Are they only after TIFs. “
Wolff said he didn’t know yet if the city would be penalized for IRBs.
Ryan Denk, city attorney, said TIF is a problem.
“The city foregoes revenues and it still hits the tax roles,” he said. «”The increment is still taxable but my understanding is that the IRBs and constitutional tax abatement don’t count but I don’t know. “
Todd Winters, city council member, said he understands that as long as the city gives numbers and has a hearing they can proceed.
“As long as we are responsible with that, “ he said.
Wolff said the State of Kansas doesn’t want cities capturing without representation.
Shute said they have to be able to support organic growth of the city.
Mark Baldwin, council member, said he supports it and in general it sounds ok.
”Now we have to justify why we are doing what we are doing, “ he said. “Now we have to tell people why we are doing what we are doing every year-that’s a good thing. “
Shute said it could have a chilling effect.
“ It’ll be a chilling effect on certain types of business,” he said.
Baldwin said they would still be going forward with the same planned developments.
“We just now have to explain things to people,” he said. “The first year we are very cautious but then we get into a flow. “
Kacy Deaton, council member, said they weren’t losing out on money, they just had to explain to the public how they were using the money.
“I don’t know if we are really losing we just have to take extra steps,” she said.
Shute said it put the city in a tough spot with money going out to fix infrastructure in order to attract commercial businesses.
Baldwin said the first few years could be interesting.
Winters said he assumed just about every city is going to have a public hearing.
Shute said he wanted to know if school districts, fire districts and other types of municipalities were affected.
Wolff said most people were affected by Senate Bill 13.
All council members supported the revenue request from Gardner Cemetery for salary increases and new computers and software.

Other items passed:
– Land condemnation for the US 56 Highway Pavement Reconstruction.
Tim McEldowney, city engineer, said it was the next step needed to proceed.
“It’s going well just going slow,” he said. “We haven’t run into anyone digging their heels.”
Shute said the construction starts in August,. so they have very little time to send letters out.
-An amendment for an engineering services contract with George Butler and Associates for the preliminary South Wastewater Treatment Plant design.
The amendment now includes city growth east and south of I-35 and detailed alternatives for the south and east lift station sites, alternative routes, timelines and financial impacts.
The original contract was for $388,172. The additional $98,458 amendment will make the contract for $486,630.
Gonz Garcia, utilities director, said it will be funded from the Wastewater fund.
Representatives from George Butler and Associates said they had evaluated three options, and they were limited with the Hillsdale regional water supply and long term growth in the Southeast area with the KDHE requirements.
They said they were looking at a new pump station being constructed through Kill Creek.
Shute said the most obvious solution was to build a new plant and not use Hillsdale.
Baldwin said the real problem is KDHE won’t let the city use Hillsdale.
Shute said they have some options.
Baldwin said they were being forced into a corner.
Gregoryck said they couldn’t be the only ones on this island.
Denk said it was beyond any type if lobbying he had ever done.
Baldwin said he wanted to know piping costs estimate.
Pruetting, said it would cost $6 million to pump to Sweetwater and there were jurisdiction issues.
Shute said it would be too costly and taxing to go North of Gardner Lake, Cedar Lake and Olathe Lakes to pump.