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2015 budget gets commissioners' OK





Hays city commissioners approved the 2015 budget after no one from the public contributed comments in the public hearing.

Paul Briseno, Hays assistant city manager, led the budget presentation.

The $35.8 million balanced budget kept the mill levy at 25 for the sixth year. With a projected 2-percent decrease in sales tax collection, expenditures are reduced 3-percent in the general fund. The levy would be 26.3 if the city does not spend approximately $270,000 next year to keep it at 25.

The mill levy's valuation is expected to increased 2.7 percent, so the city will bring in more money with the stable mill levy.

City employees will receive a 2-percent bonus just for 2015.

Upgrading the wastewater treatment plant, possibly establishing the R9 Ranch for a new water source and sewer line cleaning are among the future projects the city faces.

Commissioners voted 3-2 to approve keeping an increased subsidy for the Hays Sister Cities Advisory Board. Its award would rise from $3,000 to $5,050. Other groups were kept at their 2014 levels.

Steward said the raise was merited because the group is "reconstituted" with a new vision to continue its sister cities program and be ambassadors to community members from different cultures.

Schwaller said there is a policy capping agencies' requests. The raise could set the precedent new projects deserve more funding, and he suggested appointing a special group for outreach to different cultural perspectives in the community. The mayor also highlighted the fact the board has $22,489 in reserves.

Mellick said he wanted to maintain the 2014 levels because of the projected flat sales tax collections in 2014 and 2015.

Schwaller and Mellick voted against the raise.