City tables 2022 sales tax budget discussion

Vincent Marshall
Dodge City Daily Globe

City commissioners tabled the 2022 sales tax budget on Monday. The tabling comes after concerns were raised by the joint city and Ford County commissions over inadequate funding of the depreciation and replacement fund.

Issues were raised however with the agreement between the city commission and Ford County commission.

According to Mayor Rick Sowers, the city commission has reached out to meet with the county but they have not responded to meet.

"We had an interlocal meeting," Sowers said. "They had a quorum. They couldn't make a decision because they wanted the third commissioner there. I've been pretty polite and I've asked them to meet with me. "I've asked them to come back as an interlocal group and I haven't heard a response from that."

Finalization of the funding needs to be done by Dec. 1.

According to commissioner Brian Delzeit, who agreed with Sowers' frustrations, said, "Is that in the best interest of 'Why Not Dodge?' clearly not. There needs to be open communication and it's not there."

By lowering the interlocal funds, it would allow the entities to put funding back into the depreciation fund.

"I just don't know where we want to go on this," commissioner Joe Nuci said. "Either we want to take our $250,000 and put the $50,000 towards that (depreciation fund) or do we want to take 50/50, it's pretty clear that they (Ford County) want the $300,000. They've went through both parties and it's just up to us if we're going to accept that or not or if we're going to go back at them again in the next two weeks."

Commissioner Blanca soto added the city commission needs to try.

"It could very well be their budget just can't take it," Delzeit said, "I understand that, totally understand that but talk to us."

If and when an approval goes through, the projected revenue for the sales tax project fund for 2022 will be $6,397,056.

According to the city, it is projected to be higher than previous years and so far has seen an 18% increase in 2021.

For the depreciation and replacement funds, the city plans to transfer $425,000 in excess funds that were available from the debt service reserve for 2021.

According to city finance director Nicole May, after consideration by city legal counsel Brad Ralph, as part of the interlocal agreement between the City of Dodge City and Ford County, the city can decide on its part of the $300,000 subsidy.

"The city can determine how they want that to be spent," said May.

According to city manager Nick Hernandez, there is no mechanism in place for if one entity wants to have a lower amount or vice versa.

"It's not clearly defined in our interlocal agreement," Hernandez said. "And so that would have to be something that would have to be addressed at a future time, with an addendum to the actual interlocal agreement because there is no process if one entity wants it lowered."

May added that in total, the budget will not change, with $660,000 available, the city would get $300,000 and $300,000 to Ford County leaving $60,000 left over for interlocal spending.

According to commissioners, the approval of the $660,000 was approved by the Community Facilities Advisory Board, a board developed to oversee operations of "Why Not Dodge?" projects.

With only $60,000 available after the split, entities would only have a cap of those funds to request from CFAB.

"And they usually ask for $110,000," Delzeit said. "I see the problem there."

Nuci said, the city can approve the funding agreement with the $600,000 and not have to go back through the CFAB for approval of the $60,000.

"We've been talking about it as long as I've been on," said Nuci. "That we were going to look at lowering that at some point."

Sowers added that he believes for organizations that have a tax base, wouldn't be the first that would keep up their funding.

Commissioners also aired grievances with the Ford County commission on coming to an agreement.

Commissioners agreed to table the sales tax budget with a 4-0 vote. Commissioner Kent Smoll was absent from the meeting and did not vote.

To contact the writer email vmarshall@gannett.com