City budget near

By RICHARD LUKEN
Register Reporter

City planners are working to close a $45,000 difference between Iola’s planned expenditures and income for its 2010 budget.
City Administrator Judy Brigham visited with Iola commissioners Tuesday about the budget process. The discussion was cut short after commissioners directed each of Iola’s department heads to submit short narratives about their individual budgets by week’s end.
The goal, Brigham said, is for the city to meet its $23 million spending obligations for 2010 without increasing Iola’s ad valorem tax levy, currently set at about 37 mills.
Balancing the budget will likely require the city to put off a planned purchase of a new fire truck. The city has about half of the necessary $550,000 in reserves. The original plan was to apply the rest of the funding to buy the truck, which would replace a 1975 model, in 2010. Instead, that purchase will likely wait until 2011.
Brigham wondered if the city should institute a mill levy to fund expanded Recreation Department programs. Commissioners weren’t enthusiastic, and may use a portion of the city electric fund reserves for recreation programs instead.
The city must hold a budget hearing to give citizens a chance to sound off about the spending plan before it is presented to the County Clerk’s Office by Aug. 28.
Before the budget talks began, commissioners heard an appeal by Jackie Smith of Allen County Big Brothers Big Sisters.
The program, which matches local at-risk youth with older mentors, will run out of funds by the end of the month, Smith said. Exacerbating the problem is increased demand for mentors.
The program has traditionally served 30 youths at a time. It will expand to 40 matches by this fall, Smith said.
“The program will go on,” she said. “We’re that committed to it.”
Commissioners were noncommittal about funding.

A DESIGN firm is hawking its services to help the city with what it’s calling the “Vision Iola Master Plan.”
Landworks Studio of Olathe, a landscape architectural planning and design firm, hopes to assist the city with a comprehensive parks plan now that the city has lots of vacated green space because of the 2007 flood.
Landworks, working with the city and Thrive Allen County, would assist with other programs, including a downtown master plan, transportation enhancement grants, streetscape designs and more attractive signage throughout the city.
Cost would be $75,000 — $66,000 to Landworks and $9,000 to Thrive. The plans would be funded with a $49,900 grant from the Kansas Health Foundation, plus $25,100 from the city.
The Health Foundation grant is contingent upon the city’s contribution.
Commissioners agreed to discuss the matter further.

A NEW ordinance will allow alcohol at private functions in the Recreation Community Building at Riverside Park.
Commissioners approved the ordinance at the request of Tim Cunningham, executive director of Tri-Valley Developmental Services.
Tri-Valley hopes to rent the Rec Building in September for its annual gala.
The building is the only facility large enough to accommodate its expected crowd of more than 200 people, Cunningham said. Wine would be served as part of the gala.
Until Tuesday, the city allowed alcohol only for private functions at its North Community Building and at the New Community Building at the park, which was destroyed in the 2007 flood.
Commissioners Bill Shirley and Craig Abbott voted in favor of the ordinance. Mayor Bill Maness voted against it.