Olathe is in good financial shape for the next two years.
City Manager Michael Wilkes presented the proposed 2016-2017 city budgets to the city council.
This is the first time the council is considering a two-year budget process, instead of one. The change was made to allow for better long-range planning and enhanced analysis, Wilkes said.
This year, the council will adopt the 2016 budget and conditionally approve the one for 2017. Next year, the 2017 budget will be revised to adjust revenue estimates and reflect any major changes in programs, before being formally adopted.
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The proposed general fund budget is $91.51 million in 2016 and $96.36 million in 2017. No mill levy increase is planned.
“Like many cities, Olathe is slowly recovering from the recession,” Emily Vincent, budget manager of Olathe told The Olathe News. “After years of acting conservatively, we now have good revenue growth and a positive financial outlook. We’re continuing to meet the public’s needs by focusing on their top priorities.”
In the proposed budget, there is an emphasis on public safety and transportation.
The police department will see the addition of three patrol officers in 2016 and five in 2017, effectively adding one patrol officer per shift.
One school resource officer will be added in 2017 to serve the city’s new high school, Olathe West. That position will be jointly funded by the city and Olathe Public Schools.
Staff told the council that since medical calls account for the majority of fire department responses, the proposed budget continues the transition of the fire department’s emphasis on the squad concept.
The squad enables the department to dispatch smaller and more cost effective fire apparatus and appropriate resources, rather than sending large equipment.
The proposed budget allows for three additional two-man squads, two in 2016 and one in 2017. One squad captain is also proposed in 2016.
To increase efficiencies in the city’s street maintenance program, the proposed budget also allows for two project inspectors and one traffic control specialist who would assist with maintaining street markings and signs.
The city council will be evaluating the proposed budget throughout the summer and residents are encouraged to engage in the process.
Budget workshops are scheduled on July 14 and July 28, with a public hearing scheduled for Aug. 4.
There will also be a social media event from 6 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 7, in which residents are encouraged to tweet budget-related questions with the hashtag #AskOlathe or post questions directly on the city’s Facebook page. City officials will respond to those questions live.
“Social media makes it more convenient for residents who can’t come out to city hall for a town hall type meeting,” said Erin Vader, the city’s communications and public engagement manager. “It’s about adapting to the needs of our residents. It’s interactive, engaging and fast-paced.”
In-depth information about the budget and its process is available in the budget section of the city’s website, at www.olatheks.org. Questions about the budget can also be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The budget is tentatively scheduled to be adopted Aug. 18.
“The budget is the number one policy decision the council makes each year,” Vincent said. “It’s the citizens’ taxpayer dollars being allocated, so we want to hear how people want their money prioritized. It’s important to the council and city staff to receive that feedback.”
Social media feedback: From 6 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 7 residents are encouraged to tweet budget-related questions with the hashtag #AskOlathe or post questions directly on the city’s Facebook page. City officials will respond to those questions live.