During the July 19 Abilene Commission study session, Marcus Rothchild reviewed the 2023 budgets of the Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau, Parks and Recreation Commission and remaining special revenue funds with the commission. Wendy Moulton, director of the Abilene Public Library, presented the budget for the library.
The budget copies that were given to the commissioners and presented contained red text from Rothchild. The red text is not available on the budget in the meeting’s agenda that is available to the public.
Moulten started the budget discussion by speaking on changes to the library budget. Moulten said the budget has a 3 percent increase to the salaries and a “step-up” on the library’s pay plan. The library increased the money in its collections to reach the state recommended amount of 12 percent. Currently, the library is at 7 percent. The library increased the budget for utility, supplies and maintenance 5 percent due to inflation of prices. Moulten said the library meets all the state standards except for the collections and a bi-yearly maintenance review from the state. Moulten said the state standards are akin to guidelines and not requirements, and she keeps the city informed of any maintenance issues.
Rothchild then handled the rest of the review and started with the Special Parks and Recreation fund. The fund receives a third of the revenue generated by the city’s alcohol tax. Rothchild said the fund is estimated to rise back to a normal amount of $14,000 for 2022 and 2023 compared to lower revenue years in 2021 and 2020. Under the capital outlay item, $80,000 is budgeted for 2023. Rothchild said the city is preparing for maintenance on multiple issues in the parks. The projects will be presented to the commissioners in the future. Rothchild also said the item also contains donations that are designated to be used toward the flower gardens.
Rothchild then moved on to the Special Alcohol and Drug fund, which is also funded by a third of the revenue generated by the city alcohol tax. Rothchild said staff is still adhering to the application plan they devised a couple of years ago for organizations to apply for money generated by the tax. The staff then divides the funds based on the applications. Rothchild said the new process is more efficient and is easier for organizations to understand what money is available. Ron Marsh, city manager, said the new process removes subjectivity in allotting the money. The fund is made up of the tax revenue and revenue earned during 2022.
Rothchild then moved on to the Special Revenue Library/ Pool fund. The fund contains the carryover balance from the sales tax raised for the library and Abilene Swimming Pool renovations. In the past, the leftover funds have been used for improvements and maintenance on the library and pool. City staff will continue to use the fund similarly in 2023. The fund will be depleted in 2023 or 2024, Rothchild said.
For the 8th Street Project fund, Rothchild said the leftover money in the fund was transferred to the Special Highway Fund, leaving the project fund empty. The fund will be closed out in a couple years.
The next fund discussed, the Recreation Commission fund, is technically on the Abilene School District budget and uses the school district’s levy, Rothchild said. The fund is in the city’s budget because they handle the fund’s accounting. Under the special projects item, the $250,000 in 2022 is for the Eisenhower Park tennis court project. The $165,000 budgeted for 2023 is an estimation of the carryover balance from the $250,000. Rothchild said the fund in general has seen increases due to cost increases.
Next discussed was the Convention and Visitors Bureau fund. Their revenue is based on the transient guest tax. For 2022 and 2023, city staff estimates the fund will receive $175,000 from the tax. Rothchild said the American Rescue Plan funds of $105,824 made up for the decrease in revenue in 2020 and 2021. For the money under the personnel item, Rothchild said the item’s amount will only be fully used if the estimated revenue from the tax comes. Julie Roller-Weeks, director of the bureau, wants to hire part-time workers to raise the number of staff back to where the number used to be before the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the budget. The $45,000 under the Capital improvement/special projects item will go towards the expense of creation of a visitor’s guide and restyling billboards.
Rothchild then moved to the non-budgeted funds. Pointing out the Special Law Enforcement fund, he said part of the asset forfeitures are placed into this fund to be used for special needs the Abilene Police Department may need in the future. The ARPA fund is now been moved to the non-budgeted funds. The funds have been used to produce and install Well 23 and to subsidize the visitor’s bureau during the pandemic. The Sister City Scholarship fund is now on the budget. The fund was created last year to aid community members to travel to the sister city of Omitama once the commission organizes the trip. The $7,000 in the fund was taken from the leftover money in Sister City Commission’s 2022 budget. The Kansas Fights Addiction Act fund was added to the budget the week prior, Rothchild said. The city received around the first payment from the National Opioid Settlement, which is about $1,500.