Florence mill levy will increase slightly

Good news is a drop of 14 mills in the future


News editor

Florence Mayor Greg Winn and three attending councilmen looked over preliminary numbers Monday night for the 2009 budget. Councilman Dan Ludwig was absent.

City clerk Janet Robinson had received information from the county relevant to the ad valorum tax. The council is considering raising the mill levy to 91.391, up from 88.793 for 2008.

"We are going to have to make an increase if we are going to maintain services and what the city can do for the citizens," said councilman Randy Mills.

He reminded the group that taxes in Florence will be reduced by 14 mills in 2011 when several large projects are paid off.

"In the meantime we have to keep the city running," he said. "We can't just put everything on hold for three more years. Some things, like the sewer and some drainage issues and streets just won't last that long."

Council members will get a rough draft of the budget for their review by July 16.

"In order to get this done on time," said Mills, "we need to approve the budget at the next meeting, July 21, and have it to the newspaper the next day for publication.

"The budget hearing will be Aug. 4," he said.

Later in the meeting the council heard a couple of encouraging reports that relieve some financial pressure on the city.

Federal Emergency Management Agency contacted Robinson with an offer of $31,622.56 to be applied toward clearing a log jam from the area beneath the Fifth Street bridge. The city will have to come up with some money to support the project, but Robinson was unaware of exactly how much that might be.

Mayor Winn advised the council that Kansas Rural Water Association had helped the city with technical assistance on a sewer problem.

"They were great," he said. "They came to town, fixed the problem, and kept us from being out of compliance discharging sewage. They saved the city thousands of dollars."

In other business, the council:

— appointed Trayce Warner as Florence representative to Marion County Economic Development and agreed to look into a position for her with Florence Economic Development.

— appointed John Swarm to Florence Planning and Zoning committee.

— discussed with police chief Conroy Miller the cost of ticket books he and his officers use for traffic tickets. After discussion, council instructed Miller and Robinson to contact the state and see if the city can have its own books printed since tickets are now filed electronically with the state. Council members felt the savings to the city would be significant if the printing was done locally.

— heard from Phil Baldwin that some of the rough places on Fifth Street have been filled, manholes have been re-built and recovered, repairs will begin on Ninth and Main as soon as harvest ends, and that several overgrown evergreen trees at Hillcrest Cemetery need to be removed when the ground is dried out or frozen.

— discussed the theft of flowers and ornamental items from graves at Hillcrest Cemetery. Council members acknowledged that Baldwin is the cemetery sexton and also discussed city employees and mowing crew removing items that have been left too long or have blown over and can get tangled in the maintenance equipment. A city ordinance allows employees to remove embellishments and flowers from the cemetery.

— instructed Robinson to send a letter to Morning Star Ranch and see if they still want the lights and light poles from the former football field on Eighth Street.

— agreed after discussion to look into a more efficient storm warning system for the community. If power goes out the sirens fail and no one can be warned about an approaching storm. Even when the sirens are on there are pockets of the community where they cannot be heard because of the topography of the town.