WAHOO – Higher property valuations in Wahoo allowed the city to set a new operating budget that is relatively flat, compared to last year, and impose a tax rate that is a 3 percent drop.

The Wahoo City Council gave the nod to the new fiscal year budget last Thursday evening.

City Administrator Melissa Harrell told the council she and the finance committee had worked through all of the numbers and there were not a lot of changes overall.

“I think the numbers are pretty consistent across the board,” she said during the council’s work session on the budget.

The 2019 operating budget is a little more than $11.15 million, that compares to $11.21 million in 2018. The 2019 tax rate of .554043 is expected to generate a little more than $1.6 million in revenue for the city, which is about $42,600 more than last year’s tax asking.

The new tax levy means property owners in Wahoo will be paying about 55.4 cents per $100 of property valuation.

Property valuations were a big driver in the numbers for this year’s budget. Harrell reported that valuation rose 6 percent to $288,831,098 this year.

The new budget does take into account staff raises and changes.

A 2 percent cost of living increase was figured in for full and regular part time employees.

The change comes with the addition of two full-time paramedics for the EMS department.

EMS Chief Grant Anderson said the additional hours these two new employees pick up will put the city closer to having round the clock paramedic staffing.

“There are still a few gaps on evenings and weekends,” he said.

Anderson added that call volumes continue to make it necessary for this type of staffing.

According to Harrell, the city can also log more transport services with the increased paramedic coverage. She said this would help billing rates and revenue.

A part-time assistant is also in the budget for the planning and zoning department. Harrell said this position will be 20 hours a week to offer some assistance to a department that is currently just staffed by one person.

Other funds in the new budget include $40,000 set aside for planning with the police department remodel. There is also $15,000 budgeted for nuisance abatement.

The street department’s budget includes $250,000 for sidewalk, curb and overlay projects.

The capital improvement projects include the Safe Route to School project, which will build a walking path along Hackberry Street to Wahoo Elementary. Harrell said this project is slated to finally start this fiscal year. Repair of the guard rails at Wahoo Creek is in the budget as well.

The new budget makes reference of Keno fund allocations too. The city will use $20,000 of these funds to match grant dollars for owner-occupied housing rehabilitation.

Harrell said the budget also has money for the completion of the Chestnut Street Improvement project.

She reported there has been a separate fund set up for the additional 1/2 cent sales tax that voters approved for the Chestnut Street Project. She said that is best for a clean separation of collected funds, especially since that designated tax sunsets once the project is paid off.

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