City budget approved with slight mill levy increase for Pratt

Fran Brownell
Pratt Tribune
Pratt City Commissioners approved trading in this 1996 Cat 160H motor grader for a smaller, newer grader that will be more useful to the city, according to Public Works Director Russ Rambat.  It will be replaced with a 2007 Cat 12 motor grader at a cost of $30,000, plus the $40,000 trade-in allowance. Commission members took the action at their August 17 regular meeting.

Pratt City Commissioners unanimously adopted the city’s 2021 budget in the amount of $24,134,783 following an advertised public hearing at their regular meeting Monday, August 17, at Pratt City Hall.

Funding for the 2021 budget is up by $974,244 from the 2020 budget of $23,160,539.

“We welcome anybody from the audience that would have a question,” Mayor Gary Schmidt told the four community members in attendance as he in opened the hearing.

City Finance Director Diana Garten highlighted details of the 2021 budget for which the mill levy is set at 52.166 mills, up from 52.056 mills for 2020.

“It’s very minimal,” Garten said, stating that the increase, on a $100,000 home, would amount to a $1.27 tax increase to the property owner.

“We worked hard to do that because of the COVID situation and one of the ways we were able to do that was to not increase salaries,” Garten said.

According to the budget notes prepared for the hearing, property valuations as assessed by the county are up citywide by $211,510.

Under the 2021 budget, health insurance will continue to be available to city staff and commissioners through BlueCross BlueShield.

City Manager Bruce Pinkall praised department heads and city employees for their participation in the budget process

“I want to say ‘thank you’ to everybody for taking responsibility,” Pinkall said.

The budget hearing was closed with no comments from audience members.

Pinkall also updated city commissioners on additional security upgrades planned for City Hall, for both the front and rear entrances, following an overnight break-in Wednesday, August 12, which Detective/ Assistant Police Chief Jeff Ward said resulted in minimal damage and an insignificant amount of money missing. 

“There is concern and we need to elevate our security,” Pinkall said.

In other business, commissioners also considered and approved, as presented by Director of Electric Utilities Jamie Huber, an updated Electric Utility Extension Policy within the City of Pratt’s Electric Territory, which stipulates terms and conditions for extending city electric service, including expense responsibility for requests.

Also approved by commissioners, on request of Public Works Director Russ Rambat, was purchase of a 2007 Cat 12 motor grader at a cost of $30,000 after trade-in allowance of $40,000 for a 1996 Cat160H, which Rambat said is not used regularly because it is too big for most city projects.

Street Superintend Roy Sinclair said the city would keep the blade from the traded-in grader to be modified for other city uses.

Building Inspector Brad Blankenship reported that weed letters are continuing to be sent out. “It’s a daily, weekly chore,” Blankenship said.

The next meeting of the Pratt City Commission will be held at 5 p.m. Tuesday, September 8, at Pratt City Hall, postponed from the regular Monday meeting date due to the Labor Day Holiday.