Humboldt holds tax rate steady

Humboldt's property owners will pay roughly the same in ad valorem taxes they paid last year, Humboldt City Council members said Monday. The tax rate is roughly identical to the city's levy for 2021.

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September 14, 2021 - 11:04 AM

Photo by Google Maps

HUMBOLDT — With a nary a whimper, Humboldt city council members unanimously passed their 2022 budget Monday evening that retains its 93.742 mill levy.

The city is sitting comfortably, City Administrator Cole Herder said, with a cash carry forward of almost $900,000 for the year.

“But we’ll spend that down pretty heavily with the increase in salaries,” he said.

Last month, council members voted to set the base wage at $15 an hour for city employees. Since then, Herder said he’s had five current employees ask for raises. 

The higher wage rate has brought more applicants, he said. 

On Monday afternoon, longtime employees Patricia Sanchez and Eddie Harner were feted with retirement parties. Sanchez retired as public works/utilities foreman and had been with the city for 40 years. Chaz Sanchez, her nephew, has been promoted to the position.

Harner had served as custodian for 46 years.

Street repairs across 44 blocks could begin as soon as next summer. Council members approved BG Consultants to seek bids to chip and seal the town’s major thoroughfares.

Bruce Boettcher of Emporia walked council members through the process of applying for cost-share funding through the Kansas Department of Transportation as well a Community Development Block Grant.

Total cost of the project is an estimated $700,000, for which Humboldt will be responsible for about $200,000.

The wheels will move quickly, Boettcher said, noting the application for the KDOT grant is due by Sept. 24.

The difference between the two grants is that with KDOT, the city pays the bills up front with KDOT reimbursing it on a monthly basis. 

The UV system that treats dirty water at the wastewater treatment plant is in need of replacement and is no longer reliable, Herder said. “It’s way beyond its life expectancy.”

Herder said he’s asked BG Consultants to find a replacement.

Cost is estimated at $250,000.

Beth Barlow of A Bolder Humboldt received permission to apply for a grant through the Kansas Housing Resource Corporation to develop affordable housing.

Barlow said A Bolder Humboldt is considering building “four to six spec houses,” to put on the market. 

If approved, the grant funds would help make up the difference between what a house in Humboldt costs to build and what it would sell for.

The city would administer the funds. 

Barlow said the gap financing could be as much as $400,000.

Herder said he will approach Allen County commissioners on Tuesday to ask for funds to go toward either helping replace its water lines or replacing the UV system at the wastewater treatment plant. 

The county has now received half of its $2.4 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds. 

The new water lines in Humboldt come with a $13 million price tag. 

In other news, Josh Miller has resigned as a police officer. The city is in need of four maintenance workers, one police officer and a custodian.

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