Archive for Thursday, May 30, 2002

City, county do not expect tax increases

May 30, 2002

Read my lips, no new taxes.

That phrase usually comes back to haunt whoever utters those words, so it's understandable that local officials are careful when commenting on whether any new taxes will be levied during the upcoming budget hearings.

However, both county and city officials said this week they do not anticipate raising mill levies during budget hearings in June.

"As of today, my plan is to develop a budget with no mill increases or decreases," Basehor City Treasurer Baron Powell said. "We want to hold steady."

Leavenworth County Commissioner Joe Daniels was equally optimistic that the county's mill levy would not increase.

"I'm pretty confident that there will not be an increase," he said.

The Leavenworth County Commission will begin meeting next week with each county department head to figure a budget for next year.

The Basehor City Council will begin working on its budget during a work session June 13.

Basehor Mayor Bill Hooker said city officials would enter the budget hearings with a mindset of not raising the mill levy.

"That's what we have to do," Hooker said. "All of our thoughts are that way. It should be the mindset every year. Last year, we just didn't have a choice."

Last August, Basehor residents were hit with a combined 21-mill increase from the county and city.

The county mill levy increased from 32.031 to 41.138 and the city's was raised from 16.552 to 28.662.

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

This year, however, it appears those numbers will remain the same.

Financial obligations for the Basehor wastewater treatment facility, which caused much of the need for last year's mill increase, have curbed, and other revenue sources have gone up, city officials said.

In addition, annexed and regular city developments have brought additional revenue to the city through increased valuation in property taxes, city officials said.

Another financial advantage is that an expected drop-off in sales tax never occurred.

A fire Dec. 15 at the Basehor shopping center left the city without much of its retail businesses, but the effect of the fire hasn't hurt the city as much as officials thought.

Powell said the city is on pace to collect roughly the same amount this year, approximately $90,000, as it did last year.

"There really hasn't been a significant drop in sales tax," he said.

Although it appears the mill levy will be left alone for at least a year, city officials said a five-year plan calls for raising solid waste and sewer rates by 4.5 percent over the next three years.

The rates would then steady off during the next several years because more users would be attached to the sewer system, city officials said.

And while this year's budget appears to be in much better shape than last year's, city officials aren't making any promises on what will be approved.

Powell said the budget thus far is very preliminary and would probably have changes before it is finalized at the end of August.

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