City Budget Cuts Deep At TPAC

By: Giang Nguyen Email
By: Giang Nguyen Email

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Topeka Performing Arts Center was among those cut in a budget Topeka city council members and mayor Bill Bunten approved early this morning.

It took seven hours to reach the agreement that keeps the 2013 property tax hike below 3 mills.

But negotiations ended with $1.5 million in cuts and a 2.9 mill levy increase for next year.

"The council's position is that we have certain things that we must do, police department, fire department [services], public works," Mayor Bill Bunten said.

Bunten said the budget was "generous" and preserved core services, though with some painful concessions.

"I took one in the jaw for trying to get the budget," he said on trying to reach a compromise. "But I regret that we weren't able to provide strong support to TPAC," he said.

TPAC has received $187,500 in 2011 and 2012, which already represented a cut from prior years, TPAC's board of trustee president Cody Robertson said.

That amount was cut nearly in half - to $94,500 for next year at last night city budget meeting. TPAC had requested $250,000 - a funding level it received prior to the 2011 cut.

"Side by side with essential services, such as fire safety, police safety, arts are necessarily gonna be first on the chopping block," Robertson conceded. "I can't necessarily say that I disagree with that. Even in my position with this organization, I cant disagree with that." But, he said, "there has to be a middle ground."

Robertson says TPAC remains committed to its mission, and cutting arts from the educational programs it provides will be its last resort.

The council also cut $100,000 from both the Topeka Zoo and the Travel and Education budget.

In addition, incoming City Manager Jim Colson must find another $300,000to cut when he arrives.

Mayor Bill Bunten has until Tuesday, August 21, to veto specific line items.


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