The City Manager will present the 2021-2022 Proposed Budget and 2021-2030 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) at the City Council meeting on July 21, 2020. The documents are available online at
Resident engagement is a key element of the budget process. An online Budget Simulator provided residents the opportunity to adjust funding for 16 City services to explore potential ways balance a simulated budget. In addition to the Budget Simulator, the City conducted a Social Media Town Hall for the ninth consecutive year to get feedback on six topics from the May 26 City Council Retreat. The Town Halls continue to be an effective means of reaching residents and collecting feedback. Among Facebook, Twitter and Nextdoor, 9,768 votes were cast on options related to animal control, mowing, code enforcement, libraries, streets and trees. Staff also continued presenting the more traditional budget reviews at City Council District Advisory Board (DAB) meetings.
The City of Wichita’s mission is to be an exceptionally well-run city that keeps Wichita safe, grows the economy, builds dependable infrastructure and provides conditions for living well. Both the $630 million 2020-2021 Operating Budget and the $2.0 billion, 10-year Capital Improvement Program (CIP) are aligned with this mission.
The Covid-19 pandemic impacted budget development. Revenue forecasts for sales tax, interest earnings, charges for services and other types of revenue have been revised downward. Expenditure reductions were required to balance the General Fund budget. A list of 90 items was presented at a City Council retreat on May 26. Those items guided the development of a balanced budget.
The mill levy rate is unchanged. The 2021 budget is based on an estimated mill levy rate equal to last year’s rate.
Century II operations will be privatized. In order to leverage best practices and reduce the annual subsidy from the Tourism and Convention Fund, operation of the convention and performing arts center will be privatized in 2021.
Phase II of the Police Staffing Study is budgeted in the Police Department. A Central Bureau is being created to address changes in crime patterns as a result of greater residential, business and entertainment activity downtown. Additionally, capacity will be added to the Investigations Bureau. Twenty-six new positions are added in the 2020 Revised Budget.
Reserves are maintained at appropriate levels. The 2021 budget includes General Fund reserves of $35.4 million, which is greater than 10% of projected expenditures, in accordance with City Council policy.
Capital Improvement Plan Highlights
The 2021-2030 Proposed CIP is based on a project prioritization model and all projects align to the City of Wichita mission statement.
The deferral of several projects is recommended due to the expected impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on key revenues. Sales taxes, transient guest taxes and property taxes are expected to be affected to varying degrees. Due to these factors, the Proposed CIP includes the deferral of 18 projects, totaling $28.2 million. Most of these projects were originally scheduled for 2020-2022, and will be deferred up to three years. Examples of projects that are delayed include splash pad maintenance, Library improvements and snow removal equipment.
To support public safety, $101.1 million is included. That includes $36.7 million to replace fire trucks and related equipment, $13.1 million for Police and Fire radio replacements and $18.8 million for other Public Safety equipment and facility upgrades. There is also $34 million in funding for the replacement of three Police stations and three Fire stations.
A total of $30.5 million is included for projects in the downtown area. These projects include improvements to Douglas Avenue from Main to Washington, 2nd Street from Main to St. Francis, Downtown Streetscape Implementation and Commerce Area improvements. Public investment in downtown continues to provide infrastructure that supports hundreds of millions of dollars in private investment.
Street pavement maintenance efforts are expanded, with a total of $154 million included in the 2021-2030 Proposed CIP. Total annual funding will rise from $11 million in 2021 to $20 million by 2030.
Nearly $11 million is included to fund public art associated with capital projects. Approximately one-half of this funding has been embedded in project budgets identified in coordination with the Design Council, while the other half is currently unallocated. This funding is supplemental to the aesthetic improvements already funded in project budgets, based on the design standards used on City projects.
Debt levels will increase, but not beyond benchmark levels, and will decrease toward the end of the ten-year planning horizon. Total debt is expected to rise, consistent with spending plans developed over the past few years. However, this debt is projected to be managed within benchmark levels before declining in the out years.