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October 17th, 2019

ford city commissionChris Ford explains the proposed budget to the Liberal City Commission Tuesday. According to Ford, the budget is a “bare-bones” budget with no extras and matches last year’s budget with no expected mill levy increase. L&T photo/Elly GrimmELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part one of the story recapping the most recent meeting of the Liberal City Commission Tuesday evening and will focus on discussion of the 2020 fiscal year budget and the citizens’ comments near the beginning. Part two will focus on some of the action items that were on the agenda for the commission. 

The budget for the City of Liberal for the 2020 fiscal year has now officially been set as of the most recent meeting of the Liberal City Commission Tuesday evening.

“As you know, back in July we had a work session to discuss the 2020 fiscal year budget,” Finance Director Chris Ford said. “With the budget that was presented and the input from that work session, we melded those into a finalized version of what staff would propose for the 2020 budget. This is a bare-bones budget, there’s not really anything extra in there. Like everywhere else, money’s tight so what we’ve done is we’ve proposed a total budget of $47,688,500, with a mill levy dollar amount of $6,285,134 and based on our July 1 estimated valuation from the county, that would equate to 51.827 mills, which is identical to the city’s 2019 budget mill levy. I will stress that is an estimated number and what’s going to happen is in November, the county’s going to finalize the valuation and at that time will determine how many mills it will take to generate $6,285,134, so that mill number quantity is subject to change. This mill levy limit is identical to what was assessed for 2019 for the number of mills. Another thing about that is with a slight increase in valuation, this should generate an additional $63,616 if that estimated valuation holds true. I know we had a really good work session and the department heads were great about making their requests more needs than wants. Keeping tight and staying frugal ... I appreciate the opportunity we had to discuss the budget and get your input and I feel confident this budget would suffice for the City of Liberal for 2020.”

The commissioners then later expressed praise to the city staff for all the work put in for the budget. Ultimately, the budget was approved 4-0, with Commissioner Jack Carlile absent for the evening. 

A handful of citizens also spoke up near the beginning of the meeting about a few different topics, starting with Saundra Koochel. 

“I’m here to commend you for a job well done at the Mid-America Air Museum,” Koochel said. “The handicap-accessible ramp with the handles on each side is absolutely wonderful because it’s now meeting the federal requirements for a tourist attraction. Also, the other entrance, which had a very steep incline, now has nice steps so everyone, even in inclement weather, can make it to the door. The landscaping is also absolutely beautiful and the sod and sprinkler system are absolutely wonderful. But one thing is missing, and that’s a flagpole to hang our country’s flag on.”

“There is a spot where we’re planning on putting a flagpole that will be easily accessible to the staff out there,” Public Grounds Director Brad Beer said. “That is our intention.”

“That’s wonderful to hear,” Koochel said. “I actually have a partial list of places in town that do fly the flag, including the Kansas Department of Transportation, the Liberal Municipal Airport, every school, several private homes, Southwest Medical Center, and the VFW, among many others. I think it’s great there will be a flagpole out there to display the nation’s flag, especially in this day and age when so many people aren’t respecting it. Respecting the flag is something that needs to be taught to our children.”

Kris Musgrave then spoke to the commission about the Liberal Seward County Development Corporation. Don Witzke later came before the commission to offer some clarification on a couple of the bylaws for the entity. 

“I came here tonight to give you all an update on what’s going on with that,” Musgrave began. “We do have the position of the director filled now, and all the necessary accounts are open and ready to go. I would like it if, at some point in time, we could sit down for some friendly conversation – I know I’ve talked to a few of you – about all of that. I wanted to let you all know things are going well and I’d like it if we talked again at some point.”

“I would like the commission to continue the dialogue for cooperation for the cooperation as far as getting back together in some form,” Witzke said. “It might happen, it might not happen, but I would like to encourage the continuation of that dialogue.”

Local citizen Jim Garcia then spoke before the commission and those gathered in the commission chambers. 

“If I seem emotional this evening, it’s because I am,” Garcia began. “I want to thank you for your kindness and honoring me with the Jim Garcia Day award. I’m truly humbled and I’m so grateful. Words can’t fully express what I feel in my heart, and I’m not gloating, this is not about me, so I thank you for this. I’m thankful I can actually come before a city commission when there are parts of the world where people can’t do that. I also thank you all for the privilege to pray with you and serve the community. I’m also grateful for our law enforcement and emergency personnel, I have no idea what they go through when they put on the badge each morning – I served in the military and know what it’s like to be in a foxhole, but I have not the slightest idea what all our bravest and finest go through. I’m thankful to all of our governing entities for allowing me to pray with them and I’m also grateful to the hospital for letting me have the privilege to serve as a chaplain and pray for those in the hospital. I also thank my wife and family, they’re my backbone. I’m also grateful to my pastor and my church and to the ministerial alliance for letting me serve in the community. I’m also honored and humbled to serve as the chaplain for the American Legion and helping our veterans in that way. So thank you once again for the privilege to serve my community, my God and every one of you. Thank you so much.”

“You are a blessing to the community,” Liberal Mayor Connie Seigrist said.

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