Proposed 2021 budget focuses on public safety, essential public services

Tonight, Overland Park Mayor Carl Gerlach and the City Council received the first presentation of the recommended 2021 budget, which focuses on maintaining essential public services.

The proposed 2021 budget maintains Overland Park’s 13.557 mill rate from 2020, the lowest of all cities in Johnson County and all first-class cities in Kansas. The total budget equals $298.9 million, a two percent decrease from the overall 2020 budget.

Like many other cities, Overland Park is facing financial challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is reflected in the 2021 budget.

For the next two years, the City’s general fund reserves will be used to support essential services. In past years, reserve funds have financed capital improvements or enhanced maintenance projects as part of a strategic, planned spend down.

The coronavirus pandemic has and is expected to continue to negatively impact sales and use taxes, although the full impact of the pandemic is still uncertain.

Given this, City staff adjusted recommendations for projects in the previously-proposed 2021-2025 Capital Improvements and Maintenance Plans, which allocate for future public improvements in infrastructure, amenities and facilities. The updated five year Capital Improvements Plan equals $192.2 million, a 7.4% reduction from the plan presented in January 2020. The updated five year Maintenance Plan equals $115.1 million, a 2.4% decrease from the plan presented in January 2020.

“We continue to take a carefully managed and very conservative approach looking forward,” said City Manager Bill Ebel. “Historically, the financial plan has included expenditure growth to meet future growth needs; however, that is not the case in the next several years.”

The general fund operating budget, which supports day-to-day city operations, is $129.7 million, a 2.2% increase. The increase is primarily to support public safety services.

Proposed additions to staffing include:

  • A full-time Mental Health Co-Responder in the Police Department
  • A full-time Crisis Intervention Team Police Officer in the Police Department
  • Three full-time Firefighters in the Fire Department
  • Three full-time Captains in the Fire Department

Even with several positions added to support public safety, positions eliminated in other areas allow for the net addition of 2.22 full-time equivalent positions.

Other budget highlights include:

  • Funding to support the new Mental Health Co-Responder and CIT Police Officer
  • New equipment for Firefighters at Fire Station 48, including uniforms, boots, and personal protective equipment
  • Additional funding for animal impound fees at Great Plains SPCA
  • Additional funding for disposal costs at the Recycling Center

The four City Council committees will each review their respective areas of the budget during the month of June. On Monday, July 6, the City Council Committee of the Whole will reconvene to review the 2021 budget and the 2021-2025 Capital Improvements and Maintenance Plans and recommend a budget and plans for public hearing purposes.

The final public hearing for the 2021 budget is currently scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 3 in the Council Chamber of City Hall, 8500 Santa Fe Drive. Final adoption is scheduled for Aug. 17.

An approved budget would go into effect Jan. 1, 2021.

Read the City Manager’s proposed 2020 budget or see the city manager’s Committee of the Whole presentation.

Contact

Meg Ralph Digital Communications Supervisor City Manager’s Office 913-895-6160