By EARL WATT
EDITOR’S NOTE — The headline in the Dec. 31, 2010 edition incorrectly stated that the City of Liberal was amending its 2011 budget by $1 million. The City of Liberal actually amended the 2010 budget in a standard end-of-the-year procedure.
Budgeting 18 months in advance can be difficult, especially for a city that has to project expenses in excess of $30 million.
“Think about trying to guess what will be in your checkbook 18 months from now,” City of Liberal Finance Director Chris Ford said.
Nevertheless, Ford is required to present a budget for commission approval that far ahead. Sometimes expenditures and projects come in under projected costs, and sometimes they come in with costs more than originally placed in the city’s annual budget.
This is not uncommon, and each year in December, Ford presents the budget amendments to the commission for approval when there were higher-than anticipated costs to operate the city.
“It’s more of a housekeeping budget procedure,” Ford said.
This year, a variety of expenditures and projects came in at $1 million above the budget that was approved by the commission for 2010.
The reason the city was able to allow the budget overrun was due to the fact that the city had the money on hand to pay for the additional expenses.
No additional taxes were required.
“It’s OK to spend less, but if you say you are spending $10 million, and you spend $10 million and $1, you better amend your budget,” Ford said.
If the city did not have the funds, Ford said that city management would have to make decisions as to where to trim back to stay within available funding. Since the city had the extra funds on hand, city services were able to continue.
But the action taken at the end of December had nothing to do with the 2011 budget that was passed in August 2010. The mill levy that was accepted at that time will still be in effect for 2011, which had no increase.
“The mill levy has already been established and will remain unchanged,” Ford said.