Commission decreases external funding, adds COLA in new draft budget

The City Commission of Arkansas City asked city staff during a budget work session July 14 to generate a new proposed 2018 budget that it will consider July 18. Specifically, the commissioners proposed reducing Cherokee Strip Land Rush Museum’s requested $100,000 to $75,000 and the Arkansas City Area Chamber of Commerce’s requested $20,000 to $10,000 — pending the chamber’s budget presentation during the July 18 meeting — to free up cash for other city initiatives. One of those will be the inclusion of a 1-percent cost-of-living adjustment for all city employees, which is estimated to cost $76,797 ($57,252 in the General Fund). City Manager Nick Hernandez’s original recommendation for the museum was $54,500, which he said would cover all contractual and commodities expenses in 2018 as laid out in the museum’s budget. But Commissioner Jay Warren said that was too steep of a reduction and asked for at least $65,000 to be set aside for the organization. The draft budget presented to the commission at the work session would raise the mill levy by seven-tenths of a mill, to 70.233 mills, but this would not trigger the new property tax lid law because it is less than the rate of inflation. It remains to be seen what increase, if any, will be incurred by the changes requested July 14. The commissioners also directed staff to begin looking into possible options for...

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