Wichita’s proposed 2021 budget: nearly $630 million

Rodney Price
July 21, 2020 - 1:23 pm
Picture of Wichita city hall

KNSS News

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Wichita City Manager Robert Layton presented to the city council the 2021 proposed budget of $629.6 million.

Public safety is a high priority, with the police and fire budget slated at nearly $150 million combined ($149,953,349 total). The mill levy will stay at 32.72 mills. 

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Century II operations will be privatized, at a savings of over $2 million. Arts and Cultural services funding, cut by 5 percent this year, will remain flat. Library services will be restructured and the city will prioritize tree removal over tree planting.

Mr. Layton recognized the serious impacts that COVID-19 has had locally.

"All of our businesses and our residents are struggling through this time, that's reflected in our revenues and reflected in the way that we're doing business," he said.

The city says they project a net loss of $11.5 million this year, and nearly $17 million next year.

In addition to the 2021 budget, we got a look at the city's 10-year capital improvement plan.

It calls for $1.989 billion in spending, which includes the cost of the new northwest water treatment plant currently under construction. Street maintenance funding will increase to nearly $20 million per year by 2030.

However, COVID-19-related revenue losses will cause 18 projects totaling $28.2 million to be deferred for 1-3 years. City Manager Layton says a lot of work will have to be done to balance the budget in 2022 and beyond.

Rising debt levels are forecast to remain below the city's designated benchmark, calculated from a comparison of debt versus property tax revenue.

Other Tuesday items of note:

The city approved $750 thousand in facility and infrastructure improvements. Some of the projects will include fire and life safety and electrical system upgrades at all libraries, parks and recreation facilities and neighborhood city halls. It will also upgrade all fire alarm systems to cellular networks. You'll also see electrical system upgrades at MacDonald Golf Course, Tex Consolver Golf Course and the McAdams Park bathhouse.

The city approved $1.2 million to install 200 water sampling stations across Wichita to monitor the water quality and ensure its safety. The stations will monitor chorine residuals, total coliform count and the presence of E. coli in the water.

An audit of the city’s 2019 finances shows no audit adjustments or disagreements, difficulties or significant issues.

The council approved a $2.25 million budget for proposed signal optimizations along Douglas Avenue, from McLean to Hydraulic. The 1.5 mile corridor includes 13 traffic signals.

The Riverside Tennis Center improvements will go on. The total budget for the project was set at $1.903 million, which includes a $403 thousand grant.

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