Dear Mayor and Commissioners,
Some background on funding the RCPD:
In 1982 when Manhattan voters were asked to approve an additional 1/2 cent sales tax, the promise make by the City Commission was to use this additional revenue to help fund the RCPD's budget. This would be a way to help pay the increasing costs of the RCPD and hold the line on property tax needed to fund the city's portion. The thinking was not only a concern for increases in a budget which the city must, by law, fund at a prescribed level, but also, that many demands on the RCPD are due to Manhattan's transient population and the many visitor to the city - both segments that, for the most part, do not pay property taxes in the city, but do spend money here.
If I remember correctly, state law at that time did not permit a sales tax to be dedicated to a specific use. So, the means decided upon to fulfill this commitment was creating, by city ordinance, the Sales Tax Transfer Fund. As you know this Fund still exists and the 1/2 cents sales tax is deposited into it. And during the budget process the projected revenue is allocated to property tax supported funds. Originally, an for many years, it all went to RCPD line item thereby reducing the mill levy needed to fund the City's portion. thus, it was easy to see how much sales taxes (and equivalency in mills) was helping fund the Riley County Law Enforcement budget.
Under Mike Conduff's watch as city manager, the Riley County Law Enforcement Fund was eliminated as a separate item and absorbed into the city's General Fund as part of Outside Services. And a large portion of Sales Tax Transfer Fund was allocated to the General Fund (this, in addition to city's other 1/2 cent). I am pleased to see the RCPD again appears as a separate line item in the budget. But not all of the Sales Tax Transfer Fund is allocated to it. So, when a shortfall does occur in sales taxes (and thus the RCPD allocation) and the General Fund makes up the difference, in a way it is a more indirect way of carrying out the original intent of the Sales Tax Transfer Fund.
But I urge the City Commission to reaffirm the original commitment made to the voters of Manhattan and allocate all of the Sales Tax Transfer Fund to RCPD. At the very least, if an add'l amount equal to 2 mills is allocated to RCPD in 2002, the resulting decrease in mill levy needed for law enforcement would create opportunities for perhaps reducing expenditures in those funds that are entirely within the city's control and also supported by property taxes. Fluctuations in sales taxes are always a concern, but the city has a finance director who makes conservative estimates on revenues and that lessens the chance of problem arising due to shortfalls.
Thank you for you time.