Archive for Wednesday, August 21, 2002

County Commission approves 1-mill property tax decrease

August 21, 2002

Leavenworth County employees are the ones who receive the brunt of resident complaints when it comes to taxes.

"We're the bearer of bad news because we send out (tax bills)," said Don Navinsky, a Leavenworth County commissioner. "We catch the brunt of everyone's anger."

However, complaints could dwindle some this year.

In a unanimous decision, the Leavenworth County Commission approved a 2003 budget Monday, Aug. 19, that calls for a mill levy decrease of 1.1 mills.

The mill levy will drop from 41.138 to 40.163 mills.

"I think it's a solid budget that will fund the county but yet doesn't have a lot of frills built in," said Steve Wagner, Leavenworth County's financial advisor.

A mill is $1 per $1,000 of assessed property valuation.

This year's budget calls for total expenditures of $35, 728,345.

Some of the areas with the highest budgets in 2003 are:

the general fund. More than $11 million has been budgeted, making it the largest fund in 2003.

the road and bridge fund. Approximately $5 million has been budgeted for road and highway work in 2003.

Employee benefits. Approximately $3.5 million was budgeted for next year.

The county was able to lower the mill levy slightly because each department head had submitted budgets with no more than a 1.6 percent increase.

"We've set realistic goals if the departments are managed well," Wagner said.

The mill levy was also lowered because of an 8 percent increase in property valuation.

The increase in property valuation gives the county approximately $22,500 more per mill, county officials said.

However, it was the increase in valuation that Lansing resident John Mustard complained about during the county budget hearing.

The formula to figure property valuation needs to be reformatted, he said.

Mustard, who is retired, said the valuation of his property keeps increasing, causing him to pay higher taxes.

It's money he'll never recover because he doesn't plan to sell his house, he said.

"I'm concerned about people on fixed incomes," Mustard said. "I'm 62 and I hope to live in that house the rest of my life. People on fixed incomes are going to be taxed out of their homes.

"I'm at the mercy of my neighbor," he added.

County Commission chairman Bob Adams said he sympathized with Mustard, but the valuation formula is submitted by the state and there wasn't much the county could do.

The commission has tried to lower taxes when it could, he said.

"This is a process we don't take lightly," Adams said. "I don't think we've foolishly raised taxes in the past."

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