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Government

After Pandemic Cuts, New Wichita Budget Restores Some Services, Boosts Employee Pay

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The Wichita City Council has adopted a $670 million budget for 2022.

After cutting millions of dollars from its last budget because of the pandemic, the city of Wichita is looking at a better financial picture in 2022.

The Wichita City Council on Tuesday adopted a new $670 million spending plan for the coming year, up from the $584 million revised 2021 budget.

“This time last year we were in a very tough situation,” said Mayor Brandon Whipple, “where we had to cut $14 million out of the budget with anticipation that the federal government would not be able to pass any type of relief for us, because that was the responsible thing to do.

“It was tough.”

The budget includes about $73 million in federal relief aid, which will help restore some services cut last year, including forestry and city libraries, and fund a new business development program and additional affording housing options.

“With [American Rescue Plan Act] funding … I think it’s been more opportunities for the budget than we’ve had in the past,” said council member Jeff Blubaugh.

A few other items in the 2022 budget:

Privatization plans
The city is looking for private operators for both Century II and the municipal golf system. A request for proposals has already been issued for golf management.

Additional funding for police
The 2022 budget increases the Wichita Police Department budget by about $1 million, to $102.4 million. The budget adds seven more Wichita police officers, completing Phase 2 of the department’s staffing study, and two community specialists. The CIP includes almost $39 million for four new police stations and other equipment upgrades.

Pay raises
The minimum wage for city employees will increase to $15.