By Jon A. Brake
The City Commission is in a fight over the 2002 Budget, but it is more than the normal budget fight. The two new Commissioners, Brad Everett and Mark Taussig have joined Ed Klimek in bringing a sense of fiscal responsibility to the table. Commissioners Bruce Snead and Roger Reitz want things to continue as they have been.
And how have things been? From 1991 the Budget more than doubled. But there has been nothing that can compare to the City Debt over the past four years. At the start of 2001 the City had a Debt of $64.7 million. By the first day of 2002 it will have reached $71.1. Do you want things to continue as they have been?
At the start of the Budget season Director of Finance Bernie Hayen sent a warning to the Commission about the City Debt. He was worried, and he should be. The last time the City sold bonds Moody's (A Bond Rating Company) said: "Debt burden is above average at 6.7%. Nevertheless, debt levels remain manageable as the city's direct debt burden is a more moderate 4.5% and nearly 45% of all city direct debt is paid from special assessments, thereby mitigating the debt's impact on the city-wide tax base." Hayen worries about the next bond issue, and he should. The City has a list $16,574,00 of Temporary Notes that must be sold soon. Of that $3.1 million will be in General Obligation Bonds which the City must pay. The other $13.4 million will be Special Assessments. But, almost $2 million is for the Corporate Technology Park streets, sewers and water. Only a few of those lots have been sold. It will be the City responsibility to pay the specials for several years. Tuesday night the Commission took out a 20-year loan from the State of Kansas for $6.1 million.
At the start of Tuesday night's meeting Reitz read for Mark Taussig's letter (printed below) were he tells the Commission were he would like to cut the Budget. Reitz told everyone that if they wanted those programs to continue that they needed to be at next Tuesday's Special Budget Meeting to express concern.
That would be a good idea if you want to see the Budget and Debt reduced. Or, you could e-mail the City Manager at email@example.com
The Commissioners need to know that the citizens are behind them.
City Of Manhattan Debt
Year Total Debt Budget
1998 $43,109,093 $55,304,581
1999 $51,574736 $58,895,768
2000 $53,812,241 $58,740,160
2001 $64,744,261 $59,111,294
2002 $71,155,416 $55,996,145*