City Council approves tax increase
The Basehor City Council approved a mill increase Monday, Aug. 13, that will raise the mill levy for the city by more than 12 mills.
The City Council faced public opposition to the increase, although council members sighted shortfalls in revenues as the reason behind the increase.
The Basehor-Linwood School Board is also expected to increase its mill levy by five mills during a budget hearing on Monday, Aug. 20, and the Leavenworth County Commission passed a nine-mill increase Aug. 13. (See related story on page 1A)
A mill is $1 for every $1,000 of assessed property value. City officials said one mill is equal to $13,500 of revenue into the city. The increase will raise the mill levy in the city from 16.552 to 28.662 mills. The City Council also approved a sewer rate increase of 12 percent during the Monday budget hearing.
According to the approved budget, the city will spend $1,866,846 in expenditures in 2002.
The current sewer rate in the city of Basehor is $4.82 per 1,000 gallons of water, city officials said.
Basehor City Treasurer Baron Powell said the increase in the mill levy and the sewer rates were to offset expected shortages in the city's sewer fund through the year 2003.
"Unless we do things to generate revenue to the city, we are going to have problems meeting obligations, specifically in the sewer fund," Powell said.
One of those obligations is a bi-annual payment to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment for the new wastewater treatment facility. The yearly payment to KDHE is approximately $360,000.
In 2005, those payments to KDHE are scheduled to increase to $400,000 and $440,000 in 2006.
The increases in this year's budget should eliminate any increases in the city's mill levy until 2006, Powell said.
"If our assumptions hold true, we should not have to raise taxes, we should not have raise the sewer rates, at least until 2006," Powell said. "This is a process, in a year we will have to take a look and see where we stand. As of right this moment, this should cover us through 2006."
City officials said there could be a decrease in the mill levy in the future when more sewer users are hooked up to the plant although it appears unlikely.
City Council member Joe Odle said KDHE has already told property owners south of Kansas Highway 24/40 that they will have to hook onto the treatment plant within the next few years.
Property owners south of the highway are currently on a septic tank system and KDHE is moving away from septic tanks, he said.
Basehor resident Twila Heinen said the increase was not fair to residents like her because her property was on a septic tank system and not the treatment facility.
"The way you are doing it is not fair," she said. "People that are not on the sewer system should not have to pay for it."
Former City Council member Victor Ziegler, who was on the City Council during the years the treatment facility was being planned, said he was also against the increases.
"We promised these people they wouldn't have to pay for that plant and 12 mills is a long way from that promise," Ziegler said.
Another resident in opposition to the increase was Susan Guy. Guy said the increase was unfair to residents. She also asked the council if the funds from the city's sales tax base were being used for road improvements.
The city receives $180,000 a year in revenue from sales taxes in the county as well as the city. In addition, the city also receives $70,000 from the state to be used for road improvements.
City officials said the funds from the state and the sales tax are used for street maintenance and equipment and to fund the city's street department.