Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell said the city is continuing to work on the 2019-2020 proposed budget.
“We intend to have full funding for City Arts for the 2019 budget season,” said Longwell.
That represents a shift from the budget proposal the mayor and city council had been considering.
And it’s more than just City Arts. During his weekly press briefing at the Advanced Learning Library, Longwell announced that the city is working to fully fund the Linwood and Evergreen branch libraries. The budget would keep Clapp Golf Course open for now until a master plan is decided for the property.
“We’re going to fully fund it again this year, but we’re going to continue to work on the operational model and figure out a way that we can make these operate better, more efficiently. More financially responsible,” said Bryan Frye, Wichita City Council member.
So there are no guarantees those will stay open. But city leaders say they’ve listened to the public about quality of life issues, and they want to take another year before making those big cuts.
To keep those projects, Longwell said some money may have to be shifted from street maintenance.
The city manager says in his time with the city, Wichita has gone from four to eight to now $10 million for street maintenance and repairs.
“The residents have said our streets need to be improved,” said city manager Robert Layton of the recent boosting of street maintenance. “And we’re going to take it to $10 million. Now we’re only going to $9 million. This is a one-time change to only take it up to $9 million in the regular budget. That million will help balance budget for now.”
And that means some amenities like libraries, golf and City Arts will keep current funding levels.
Layton says they will get public input for the next budget, as they look at what he calls a sustainable funding plan for amenities.
The city also will consider scaling back some economic development funding to make the plan work. That plan may cut some economic development measures currently used to increase trade with Mexico.
But Longwell maintains more funding will be allocated to the Greater Wichita partnership for new strategic initiatives for job creation. He also adds he will encourage the Greater Wichita Partnership to develop stronger relationships with different entities that are doing economic development.
He says public safety initiatives and planned growth in that area will not change in the new proposal.
“Not only supporting police, fire and infrastructure, we are going to try to figure out a way for this next budget season to continue to focus on those quality of life aspects that we know are incredibly important to the community,” Longwell said.
The city will vote on the budget at their August 14 meeting.