WICHITA, Kansas – Wichita City Manager Robert Layton released the 2015-16 Proposed Budget during today’s regularly scheduled City Council meeting.
If you ask city council members, wichita is growing strong…And doing it the right way.
“You’re seeing in this budget, this year, the result of a lot of hard work,” said city council member James Clendenin, “and a lot of fiscal responsibility making sure that we’re paying for those core services and cutting away the fat from municipal government.”
With a budget of more than $500 million, fiscal responsibility matters — and so does growth, something that seems to be happening at a slightly slower than normal rate.
“I don’t think it’s any secret that the economy in Wichita is aviation related and we tend to feel the impacts of national economic downturns more severely here in Wichita and that created some issues for us,” said Mark Manning, Wichita budget officer.
Officials say over the past four years despite the severe economic downturn having such a major impact on the local economy, we’ve seen a small increase in the general fund. It’s increased by 3.6 percent, compared to normal growth of 4.5 to 5 percent. With the general fund, that difference rings to the tune of more than 3 million dollars less in our city’s coffers over the past four years.
Officials say that’s caused by several different factors, from layoffs in the aviation industry, a younger work force moving away and the failure to get new industries into wichita.
“Wichita has been one of the hardest hit regions in all the midwest and definitely we’re a harder one at this point than even some places on the east and west coast,” said Jeremy Hill, director of Wichita State’s Center for Economic Development and Business Research. “We didn’t drop as much but we also haven’t come up so it’s made the budget a little more difficult for them to balance out.”
Even with the slow growth, there is a lot to look forward to in the coming year. There’s $25 million in the reserves, 6 new fire fighters and a new training chief — paid for through federal dollars — and two new recruit classes for the police department.
Here are the following links to the city budget:
After today’s presentation, a public hearing will be held August 5th and August 13th on the budget.
The council will adopt the budget August 12th.