Topeka leaders discuss 2021 budget amidst pandemic related financial troubles

Local News

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Topeka city leaders are figuring out how to best spend taxpayer money, while also dealing with the economic impacts of the pandemic.

At a special meeting on Tuesday night, council members took another look at the 2021 city budget.

Like cities across the world, the pandemic is hurting Topeka’s city budget, so they had to make some difficult cuts to balance things out.

City manager Brent Trout put together a plan that outlines how the city will spend more than $300 million in the year 2021.

The biggest change will be to city employees. They’re planning to cut about 32 positions, 14 of which Trout said are currently filled by people.

Ultimately he said he’s proud that they were able to keep the mill levy rate the same, which means no increase in the city’s property tax rate

“I think the most important thing to know is that even though there are reductions in staffing and there are changes that are going to occur in the budget, we generally feel that the provision of service will not change for them,” Trout said. “We feel that we’re going to be able to continue to provide business in the way that we have. But that’s all predicated on making some changes in our operations in order to be able to do that.”

There was some pushback to a few details of the budget.

Councilman Duncan said he didn’t like the idea of raising the price of admission at the Topeka Zoo. Instead he suggested just raising it for people who live outside of Shawnee County.

Meanwhile, Councilwoman Hiller said cuts to some departments like animal control means Topeka Police officers would pick up some of those responsibilities which she doesn’t think should happen.

The council will meet on August 11th to talk about approving the 2021 budget officially, but they’ll also have the chance to propose amendments if they want to.

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