Pittsburg city manager submits proposed 2022 budget

Jordan Meier

PITTSBURG, Kan. — City Manager Daron Hall presented the proposed budget for the 2022 fiscal year on Tuesday night at the City Commission meeting, marking the beginning of the approval process for next year’s budget.  

“Together our community has weathered the pandemic,” Hall said, “and as we compare how we fared to other American cities; we should be comforted knowing what a resilient community we live in. Our local economy is strong and growing. Although we adjust to tight labor markets, high materials prices and extreme weather, we continue to thrive.”  

Hall outlined the City’s fiscal goals for the coming year which include an emphasis on Imagine Pittsburg 2030’s strategic plan—which focuses on improving the city’s housing, economic development, infrastructure, public wellness, education and communication—as well as prioritizing the commission’s goal of maintaining the city’s reserves and managing its debt.  

The proposed budget assumes an increase in sales tax revenue for the next year, an increase in gaming revenue from the Kansas Crossing Casino for next year and no increase in the mill levy rate.  

“Building the budget begins each year by projecting revenues,” Hall said, “and we maintain a conservative approach.”  

Additionally, as Director of Finance Larissa Bowman discussed at a city council meeting in June, Hall said next year’s budget includes a three percent increase in water and wastewater fees to help pay for a new wastewater treatment plant.  

“The current plant is over 50 years old and is inadequate to meet increased requirements for nutrient removal and growth,” Hall said. “A new plant is projected to meet our needs for the next 50 years.”  

The proposed budget outlines over $64 million in expenses, of which 52 percent is allocated to “operating costs”, which covers reserves ($19 million), transfers ($7 million), debt service ($4 million), contractual services ($2 million), capital outlay ($466,000) and commodities ($50,000).  

Of the other roughly $31 million remaining, over $11 million is budgeted to public operations, $9.8 million to public safety, roughly $4 million to administration costs, $3.1 million to community and housing development, $1.7 million to parks and recreation and over $970,000 to the public library.  

“Labor costs represent a large portion of the city’s expenses,” Hall said. “As with other employers in the region, we continue to share the difficulty of finding staff to fill vacant positions. We have enhanced our recruiting and retention efforts to address this challenge.” 

In the detailed public safety budget, $6.1 million of $9.8 million is budgeted for the police department. This is an increase from the estimated 2021 budget which only budgeted $5.4 million.  

Hall also outlined a number of large projects that will be finished during the next fiscal year.  

“In 2022, we will see the completion of the 4th Street overpass, the improvement of East Quincy to Rouse, the final engineering for a new Wastewater Treatment Plant, continued industrial expansion and more new homes,” Hall said. “Our partnerships with the business community, the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce, Pittsburg State University and all of our educational institutions and health care providers serves as the foundation for our success.” 

The commissioners will discuss the budget at the next commission meeting on July 27 and the public will have the opportunity to ask questions about the budget at a hearing on August 24.  

“The 2022 Submitted Budget reflects the city’s effort to address growth while controlling cost. Pittsburg’s economy is strong and as a result, we will continue to invest in our workforce, infrastructure and businesses,” Hall said. “We expect to emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever and make Pittsburg an attractive place for everyone to call home.”