10 layoffs and higher taxes hit Galena in order to balance budget

10 layoffs and higher taxes hit Galena in order to balance budget
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In Galena, KS, 10 city employees are losing their jobs as city officials deal with budget woes and Galena residents will face higher taxes.

A dispatcher used to be on duty 24 hours a day at the Galena Police Department, but now, all calls on week nights and weekends will be handled through the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office.

Last week, three full-time dispatchers and one full-time police officer were let go.

“They were definitely good employees and they’re going to be missed completely,” said Corporal Blaine Cornelius, Galena Police Department.

“It’s sad to hear that they got laid off, especially if they have families,” said a Galena resident.

“It happens,” said Robert Bradshaw, Galena resident. “I’ve been laid off before and I didn’t have anyone feel sorry for me.”

The police department is not alone in making cuts.

Six workers at the city’s public works department lost their jobs as well.

Cuts were made by the Galena City Council to balance the city’s budget, which faced a shortfall of more than $260,000 for 2015 due to state tax cuts and increased costs.

“If we have labor that we can do without for a while, we’re going to have to tighten our belts because we don’t have any choice,” said Dale Oglesby, mayor.

In addition to the 10 layoffs, the Galena City Council also raised taxes by 40 percent in an attempt to cover budget shortfalls.

“It’s not just 40 percent of your overall tax bill, but 40 percent of the part of the tax bill that is to the City of Galena, which is roughly a third of your tax bill,” Oglesby said.

Some Galena residents are unhappy about the increase.

“It’s just really unfortunate that people are going to have to pay higher taxes because as it is already, a lot can’t really afford it,” said Nichole Samayoa, Galena resident.

Others say more taxes may be what is needed now.

“I’ve got confidence in the city, that the leadership of the city will be able to get things worked out,” said Joe West, Galena resident.

City officials say the new hospital, in its beginning phase, is not generating as much revenue as it will later on, which is why Oglesby is hopeful tax rates can be lowered in the future.

“We’re not going to close the year in any kind of deficits anywhere and we’re happy about that,” Oglesby said. “We’ve just got to do the same thing next year and then I think we’ll start trending back upwards.”

Oglesby says changes at the state level have caused a 20 percent cut in tax revenue this year, which contributed to the budget shortfall.