By ERICKA WERLING
The city was asked not to be hasty in the use of city funds during a public hearing on the proposed 2014 budget as two Abilene residents spoke during the public hearing.
The commission is expected to take final action on the proposed budget at its Aug. 12 meeting.
According to figures from City Manager David Dillner, the proposed budget includes a 2.078 mill increase to fund three police patrol vehicles and a new bucket truck for the Public Works Department. It also includes increases for expenses related to projected health insurance increases and a 1.75 percent cost-of-living adjustment to maintain the pay plan.
The Bond and Interest Fund is proposed to increase to generate revenue to pay debt service associated with the Highlands development. The Fire Apparatus Fund contains a slight increase to pay debt service associated with the replacement of the Fire Department's aerial ladder truck. The Airport and Capital Improvement Funds both have proposed reductions to partially offset the mill levy increases.
Linda Swarts asked commissioners if it were necessary to purchase three police patrol vehicles in one year, or if it were possible to purchase one per year. She also questioned if the purchase was in addition to 10 police vehicles.
“That seems like a pretty big jump in an already tough economic situation that we’re in,” she told commissioners.
She said she knew commissioners have to make some tough decisions.
Swarts brought many issues to the commissioners. Swarts told commissioners that 90 houses in Abilene are for sale, and said that does not take into account the houses that will be vacated with ALCO-Duckwall employees who will soon be leaving.
She added that most people in Abilene are making $9 per hour, and there 6 to 8 percent of population living below poverty level.
She said she has heard “a consensus” of people say that the commission has its mind made up, and will not deviate from the decision.
“I hope they’re all wrong,” she said.
Former mayor and city commissioner Diane Miller, among other issues, questioned the commission on its use of special park and rec funds and special drug and alcohol funds. The city proposes to use funds from the special parks and rec to help fund a park pickup and purchasing a mower for the Rose Garden. She said those funds were to be used to make improvements to the park.
The commission is also proposing to use money from the Special Alcohol and Drug Fund for part of the upkeep for the Abilene Drug Dog. She said that the commission had been told that was not an acceptable use of that fund.
“We are compounding our problems,” she said.
In action taken Monday, the commission:
Awarded a bid of $112,703 to Konza Construction Co., Inc. for a street rehabilitation project on Mulberry Street and Northwest Second Streets;
Awarded a bid of $53,394 to J&K Contracting LC for a water main project;
Approved Ordinance No. 3237 exempting certain property located at 900 N. Washington Street from ad valorem property taxes for economic development purposes;
Approved Resolution No. 072213-1 accepting the financial statement for the city for year ending Dec. 31, 2012, as prepared by Pottberg, Gassman, and Hoffman, Chartered;
Approved Resolution No. 072213-2 declaring support for the nomination of the Gustave Kubach House, located at 101 S. Buckeye Avenue, to the National Register of Historic Places and the Register of Kansas Places;
Approved Resolution No. 072213-3 approving Amendment No. 1 to an Agreement for Consulting Services with Olsson Associates dated Feb. 18, 2013, concerning the Runway Rehabilitation Project at the Abilene Municipal Airport subject to the award of grant funding from the Federal Aviation Administration;
Approved Resolution No. 072213-4 approving a Consulting Agreement with Kaw Valley Engineering concerning third-party inspections for to the Dawson’s Cottage Addition; and
Approved a 10-year, 25 percent property tax abatement for Rawhide Corrals. The company recently moved from its original location on Augustine Street to its new location on North Washington Street. The move was done to provide the company with more room to meet demand for its innovative products. The company also anticipates having to hire new employees as a result of the demand for its products.
The City of Abilene has declared an end to its Water Emergency declared on April 22, 2013, and will return to a Water Warning.