Cheney approves budget, touches on pool

AAA official Shawn Stewart presents a community traffic safety award to Chief Ken Winter.

CHENEY – Members of the Cheney City Council approved the city’s budget for next year, which on its own did not prompt a lot of discussion.
In fact, no one from the community came out to speak during a public hearing on the proposed budget for 2021. The hearing was held at the start of last week’s city council meeting.
Next year’s budget is pretty straight forward, and doesn’t propose a lot of changes in spending. In fact, the local mill levy to fund the budget will actually go down slightly next year, from 61.8 mills to 60.6 mills.
One important factor is that the city’s estimated valuation for next year will be going up by nearly $1 million, due to new construction in the community and higher property values. The current valuation is $14.3 million, and the estimated valuation for 2021 is $15.1 million.
As the council got ready to approve next year’s budget, members did take a few minutes to note that the city has been looking at ways to fund a new swimming pool for the community.
“I’m working on it,” city administrator Danielle Young told council members. Young said the bond market is “really favorable” right now, and council members and city staff discussed the possibility of the city doing some of the work on a new pool itself.
“Cheney has always been thrifty,” said council member Jeff Albers. “Can we look at ways to do some of this ourselves?”
City maintenance supervisor Brad Ewy said he agreed. By taking on the role of general contractor for a pool project, and doing some of the work itself, he estimated that the city could save thousands of dollars on a pool project.
Young said the city is in better shape financially than a lot of communities, and she plans on having more information available at next month’s council meeting. After the pool discussion, the 2021 budget was approved unanimously.
In other business at last week’s meeting, the council:
• Noted that the city’s police vehicles are all back in service, that a new officer has completed his training, and another officer is starting as a School Resource Officer this fall. The SRO position is being funded with a grant.
• Heard a report from the golf course that its numbers have been strong this year, in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic. The golf course is currently on track for its best year ever, according to director of golf Kevin Fowler.
• Heard a report from Young that May sales tax numbers were up 1.5 percent. She said projections showed those numbers would be down, but strong sales at Lubbers and other businesses proved otherwise. Fuel tax money the city receives was down, but overall, revenues were up slightly.
• Approved seeding grass at the ball fields at a cost of $3,700. The ball complex will be seeded with rye at this time, and with buffalo grass next spring.
• Discussed COVID funding and expenses. The city has had $8,370 in COVID-related expenses so far, and is looking to qualify for $44,000 in funding from the county. The city will look at other needs for those funds.
Also during the meeting, Police Chief Ken Winter accepted an award from AAA of Kansas for community traffic safety. The award was presented by AAA official Shawn Stewart. Cheney was recognized for a number of traffic safety actions it had taken, along with public awareness programs.