Commissioners review annual budget

John Richmeier
jrichmeier@leavenworthtimes.com
City Commissioners Camalla Leonhard and Jermaine Wilson prepare for the start of a daylong budget work session Friday at the Riverfront Community Center. Friday marked the first time all five members of the Leavenworth City Commission had gathered in one room for a meeting since March. The city commissioners have been using videoconferencing to conduct their meetings in recent months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Leavenworth city commissioners wrapped up a daylong work session without making any major changes to approved budget for 2021.

Commissioners spent the day Friday reviewing portions of a proposed $58.9 million budget.

Leavenworth City Manager Paul Kramer has said the mill levy will essentially remain flat under the proposed budget.

The mill levy is used in determining property taxes.

Even with a flat mill levy, some homeowners could see an increase in the amount of property taxes they have to pay if the valuation of their homes increases.

Friday’s budget work session was held at the Riverfront Community Center. The meeting marked the first time all five of the city commissioners have gathered at the same location for a meeting since March.

In recent months, commissioners have conducted their meetings through videoconferencing because of concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to looking at next year’s proposed operating budget Friday, commissioners reviewed the city’s Capital Improvements Program.

The CIP is a five-year plan that budgets for various street and building projects as well as equipment purchases. Commissioners generally review and update it each year.

Because of uncertainty regarding the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, CIP projects have been placed in a tiered system with priority being given next year to expenditures related to public safety and infrastructure.

Tier 1 projects for 2021 include the purchase of a new police dog for the city.

Leavenworth Police Chief Pat Kitchens said the city’s current police dog, Ace, has been diagnosed with a degenerative eye condition.

“We have some concern that the condition is just going to get worse,” Kitchens said.

The proposed CIP budgets $17,000 for the replacement of a police dog.

Kitchens said this pays for the dog as well as training for the officer who will serve as the canine’s handler.

Kitchens said the earliest the Leavenworth Police Department would be able to obtain a new police dog is March.

He said the Leavenworth Police Department has had Ace since 2016.

Kitchens said under normal circumstances, the Police Department would try to keep Ace on duty for another year before replacing him. But concern about his medical condition has police officials looking to replace him next year.

A copy of the proposed 2021 operating budget and the 2021-2025 CIP can be found on the city’s website, www.leavenworthks.org

Commissioners will hold a public hearing on the proposed 2021 budget Aug. 11.

Following the hearing, commissioners can vote to approve the budget.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR

Fire Chief Gary Birch, left, speaks Friday during a Leavenworth City Commission budget work session. Also pictured are Leavenworth Director of Finance Ruby Maline and City Commissioner Mark Preisinger.