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Lyons City Council Sets Hearing for Budget and Exceeding of the Revenue Neutral Rate for Sept. 18


By Lucky Kidd


LYONS, Kan. — While there are a few specific line items not yet firmed up, the Lyons City Council Monday approved publication of a budget that will slightly lower the property tax levy from 2023, but still be over the Revenue Neutral Rate. A hearing on the budget and exceeding the
Revenue Neutral Rate was set for September 18th at 6 PM.

Interim City Administrator Howard Partington reviewed with the council data regarding proposed expenditures and revenues for the budget. Partington told the Council there were a number of difficulties involved with reviewing the prior year’s budget, a significant one being a change in accounting software recently made by the city.

Another issue discussed at length during the meeting was how certain expenditures are allocated within the budget. This dealt primarily with where assorted transfers are made from and to within the budget and also with allocation of salaries, especially within the four funds that fall under the Public Works department.

The Council was presented a summary of actual expenses for 2022, estimated expenses for 2023 and proposed expenditures for 2024. In addition how public works employee salaries are allocated, it was noted the line item for Police Department salaries is significantly above what was projected for this year, and will increase more in 2024. This is due to addition of two officer positions including a school resource officer position which will initially be grant funded.

Overall though, projected general fund expenses for 2023 are expected to be around $559,000 less than what was budgeted for, and $367 dollars above was what actually expended in 2022. This includes all funds of the city including those which are not funded through property taxes.

During the meeting, the Council did agree to increase spending authority for the four “enterprise” funds that are funded through user fees and not property taxes. This was done to allow the city to address any possible projects it may wish to pursue, and to provide a cushion for unexpected expenses. The gas fund budget authority was significantly increased in the event there would be another substantial increase in natural gas consumption and/or prices this winter, and to reflect an increase in interest rates on the low interest loan it took out from the State of Kansas following an extreme cold snap and related spike in gas prices in February 2021.

In terms of the property tax levy, the budget to be published in the September 7th Lyons News proposes a levy of 52 mills, which would be 1.284 mills less than for the 2023 budget. That levy breaks down to 45 mills for the general fund, 2 mills for the municipal equipment reserve fund, and 5 mills for the Lyons Public Library. The Library levy is projected to increase by just over one mill, with the equipment reserve levy to increase slightly.

The proposed 52 mill levy is 3.821 mills above the Revenue Neutral Rate, which the property tax levy that would generate the same dollars for the 2024 budget as or 2023. The city’s projected valuation was estimated by Rice County to be $19,546,193, an increase of $1,872,897 over the 2023 valuation, or about ten percent.

The Council could still make reductions in proposed spending for 2024, however what will be published next week is the absolute maximum the city can expend next year.