City eliminates $673k in deficit spending


Fifteen projects and more than half a million dollars were cut from the City of Seward’s proposed budget Sept. 19.

The city council reviewed the proposed 2023-24 budget for the second time, removing a list of capital improvement projects in an effort to slash deficit spending from the General Fund.

The projects totaled $673,500, and the city plans to either postpone the projects or find other sources of funding to complete them in this fiscal year.

“These are things that probably should be done at some point, but they don’t have to be done now,” Mayor Josh Eickmeier said.

As proposed at its Sept. 5 meeting, the budget included all 15 projects, but that meant the city would overspend its revenue for the year.

City Administrator Greg Butcher said he received no direct requests for changes to the budget between Sept. 5 and 19, but during discussion, council members decided to make the cuts to balance the budget.

“Personally, I don’t want to do deficit spending,” council member Jessica Kolterman said.

Council member Matt Stryson made a motion “to accept the proposed list and take that out of the proposed budget so we have a balanced budget.”

With a second by Kolterman, the measure passed on a 7-0 vote, with council member Jonathon Wilken absent.

Kolterman said she hopes to find other ways to fund the projects when possible.

“I don’t want these teams that represent these facilities to think we don’t care about them. We do,” she said. “We have to be responsible with the budget, but if there’s any way we can support them, I think everybody around the table is willing to do that.”

Butcher highlighted other items in the budget that create a larger-than-expected increase over last year’s budget.

“We have the wellness center, which has its own funding mechanism,” he said, “and we budgeted for bonding and construction of a new wastewater facility. Those two items alone, that’s a $32 million wastewater facility and a $21 million wellness center.”

The city will fund only one-third of the wellness center through bonds. The rest will come from grants and private pledges, but the entire cost must be built into the budget in order for the city to spend it.

Butcher said he continues to search for other funding sources for the wastewater facility, but federal grants are not available at this time.

“The numbers alone don’t tell the whole story. We’re not hiding the ball or anything,” Eickmeier said. “If you weren’t aware of those projects, you’d be like, ‘Wow, what’s going on?’ Those projects explain a lot.”

The city held its final hearing on the budget Sept. 26.