Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Committee Pushes Back Decision on 2016 Budget ; Fourth Workshop to Be Slated between Now and July 7

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Committee Pushes Back Decision on 2016 Budget ; Fourth Workshop to Be Slated between Now and July 7

Article excerpt

After three meetings totaling almost nine hours of discussion, the Topeka budget committee pushed back recommending the 2016 budget.

It was clear after more than two and a half hours of discussion at Tuesday night's budget meeting that some council members needed more time to review the budget before making a recommendation. A show of hands indicated most council members were prepared to move forward with the budget, but Elaine Schwartz and Jeff Coen wanted more discussion.

The committee, made up of the city council, will meet following the July 7 council meeting to approve possible amendments to the budget before recommending it for adoption. Between now and then, a fourth workshop will be scheduled for council members who want further clarification or discussion.

It is unclear when that workshop will be. Based on the committee's discussion, possibilities include this Thursday and June 30.

One possible amendment the committee will consider July 7 comes from councilman Jonathan Schumm. On Tuesday, he suggested moving half of the $60,000 allocated for arts to a city street light project.

Replacing or adding 15 lights would cost about $2,000, according to city estimates, so Schumm said funds could go toward installing at least 225 lights.

Colson told the council the public works staff is working on a comprehensive plan to address street lights. Currently, 107 lights need to be replaced, but there are no funds to do so in the budget. Street lights were a heated topic at last week's budget hearing, when city manager Jim Colson said he would like city staff to study the issue and the possibility of upgrading some lights to LED lights. LED lights have a higher initial cost, but require less maintenance and are more energy efficient.

The city pays Westar Energy for street lights. Generally, an 80- watt LED fixture will work in residential areas at $10.92 per month. …

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