Topeka city leaders released the 2020 budget proposal on Monday. The most important thing for taxpayers to know is that their property taxes will not increase.
Topeka city leaders said putting together the first draft of the nearly 300 million dollar budget was a challenge. Nick Hawkins from the city of Topeka’s finance department said that’s because city’s revenue numbers are not going up enough to cover the growing expenses.
“Because the rate that the expenditures are growing, all else aside if we kept that in place we’d be looking at an overall deficit,” Hawkins said.
One of the things they considered to offset growing costs is raising property taxes, which would put taxpayers on the hook for more money. City manager Brent Trout said ultimately they decided not to.
“We really need to make sure that we’re able to justify if we want them to pay more in taxes, why do we need that? So we looked at the changes we could make and [asked] did it make sense that these changes could be made in our expense areas this year and make it work out,” Trout said.
Instead, they made cuts to other departments. One being in public safety, where they cut $400,000 dollars from the police department.
“In the general fund, public safety is about 75% of the total general fund. So when you’re looking at options you have to look at where your biggest expenditures are coming from,” Hawkins said.
They said that cut won’t hurt the quality of Topeka enforcement and it’s only 1% of their overall budget. With a growing number of people working for the department, they’re expecting to be able to cut back on overtime. Overall city leaders say it’s a budget they think people will be satisfied with.
“The numbers are still working towards their favor to continue to provide the service. So that is something we feel we’re not putting in jeopardy. The service level is going to continue. The mill levy won’t go up. I think those are generally positive things when we’re presenting a budget,” Trout said.
While property tax increases are not in this budget, the city manager says eventually they will have to make it increase to keep up with growing costs. That’s something he wants people to keep in mind for the years ahead.
You can take a look at the proposed 2020 budget here.