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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Commissioners hear report on finances

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  • City officials gave Newton a good grade on its quarterly financial “report card.” At the city meeting Tuesday, Lunda Asmani, assistant city manager for budget and finance, said the city is on track to end 2012 in a good financial position. The city’s ending fund balance (the funds left over after expenditures) has been increasing the past several years. While the city’s fund balance policy states the city should maintain a fund balance of at least 15 percent of expenditures, Newton is projected to end 2012 with a 24 percent general fund balance. “Not all communities can say that,” Asmani said. “The goal has been to gradually build those fund balances up over time.” This fund balance serves as a buffer or “rainy day fund” in case of a major natural disaster such as an ice storm that results in extra expenses. Asmani projects the city will end the year with about $4.9 million in property tax revenues, down slightly from the budgeted amount of $5.1 million. However, water revenues are up, projected to end the year at $5.6 million (budgeted amount was $4.9 million). Asmani said water usage was up due to a dry summer. The city should end the year with sales tax revenues about the same as the budgeted amount. The city projects saving about $1 million on personnel costs (projected expenses for 2012: About $10 million; budgeted expenses: About $11 million). Asmani said the city budgets extra money in case of a major fire or natural disaster that would require staff overtime expenses, and if this overtime isn’t needed, the city is able to come in under budget. The city also has a healthy debt policy, Asmani said. Right now the city has about $10.6 million in additional debt capacity and has even stricter debt policies than those allowed by the state. “We have less taste for debt than what the state even allows,” said Mayor Racquel Thiesen.

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