GIRARD — The Girard City Council began its first meeting without former City Manager Chris Weiner with a public hearing for the city’s 2018 budget.

The city presented a $10.7 million operating budget for 2018, which included only a 0.5 mill increase. One mill is $1 per $1,000 of assessed value.

“We pressed Chris pretty hard to crunch the numbers on this budget before he left us,” Mayor Kurt Ziegler said. “And he did that for us and did a good job.”

The city could have raised the mill rate to the state cap of 2 mills, but did not deem an increase that large necessary.

No residents came forward to speak against the budget in its current form during the hearing. The council closed the public hearing and approved the budget for publication.

Nancy Bauer, with Celebrate Girard, presented the council with information and an events calendar regarding the 150th anniversary of the city. Bauer said the group is planning to celebrate monthly events for an entire year in 2018 — including existing events like the Cajun Fest, Easter egg hunt and fall festival — to honor the anniversary.

“Girard will officially have its 150th birthday in February,” Bauer said. “But we want to celebrate the entire year and — as the county seat — invite the whole county to these events to celebrate with us.”

Bauer informed the council of the plans and said the city may be asked for support by helping with banners for the square and more.

Girard Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Julie Smith announced the release of the new Welcome Guide and Chamber Director. The guide includes information regarding schools, health care, business, manufacturing and much more in Girard. Smith said the guides will be provided to new utility customers and can be found around town at many businesses.

The council approved engineered plans for sidewalk work on W. St. John during regular business. The engineering was performed by Cyclone Engineering in Pittsburg, and was paid for using grant funding.

The project will extend the sidewalk on the north side of W. St. John to Dollar General. A bid packet was prepared prior to Monday’s meeting and was approved to be sent out. Bids for the project will be received no later than 10 a.m. September 5. The council will open bids at the meeting later that evening.

The city approved the purchase sign materials from National Sign Company and sign posts from Econo Signs. The city is required to have all signs on Kansas Highways 47 and 7 compliant with Kansas Department of Transportation standards by 2019. The city plans to match signposts around the square to the new light posts installed as part of the city streetscape project.

Third Ward Councilman Daniel Murray announced that he has withdrawn his name from the 2018 election for his current seat. Murray said he bought a house outside of the Girard city limits, and therefore cannot run for re-election.

— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at choener@morningsun.net or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.