Wichita Facing $1.5 Million Shortfall This Year

By: Lily Wu - Email
By: Lily Wu - Email

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The city of Wichita expects to trim an initial deficit amount of $3.1 million to $1.5 million. Suggestions range from reducing fuel usage to additional management reorganization efforts.

"We have been involved in significant cutting in the last three years during the recession," said Robert Layton, Wichita city manager.

Layton also said fewer employees are working for the city of Wichita since the recession started. About 175 city jobs have been eliminated during the recession and more cutbacks may come.

"Hopefully we will not have to make significant layoffs. We can downsize through attrition. That's the least painful way and that's what we would hope would happen," said Janet Miller, Wichita council member.

The city continues to face a gap between revenues and expenses. Revenues remain flat but employee benefits and pension costs continue to rise. The council is not surprised by this year's budget deficit.

"It's not something we're happy about but it's not completely unexpected, given what the financial situation of the country is," said Miller.

Property tax revenues go to the general fund, which accounts for about 40 percent of the city's budget, that includes funding for public works, police, and fire. Layton said the city cut nearly $15 million in general fund spending for the last two years.

"We had hoped we might start seeing some increase in property valuation by 2013. I think now our financial experts are telling us that's probably not going to happen," said Miller.

Initial forecasts showed a $3.1 million deficit for this year and a $10.2 million deficit for 2013. Suggested cuts like technological improvements, reduction in fuel consumption, fewer jail fees, and management reorganization, could trim the deficit.

A preliminary timeline showed that the council will publish the budget on July 19 and then will proceed to adopt it by Aug. 9. There will be public hearing between those dates.

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