Commission approves mill levy increase
The Leavenworth County Commission unanimously approved its 2004 budget during a public hearing Monday, Aug. 18.
The approved budget includes a slight increase in the mill levy, from 40.163 mills to 41.180 mills, a 1.04 mill increase.
In large part, the mill increase is due to the elimination of funding from the state, which is battling an approximately $800 million budget deficit. The state shortchanged payments to all Kansas counties in 2003.
"Basically the situation is that the county was shorted $2.5 million in state funding," said Joe Daniels, Leavenworth County Commission chairman.
The total loss of state payments cost Leavenworth County $2,462,454, according to Leavenworth County figures.
Other factors, such as an increase in "hard costs," -- employee health care and retirement, insurance rates and the county's 911 emergency fund -- also contributed to the mill levy increase. In those four areas, county officials expect to spend $785,150 more than last year.
The approved 2004 budget also allocates increases in departmental funding, where totals climbed from $16,786,908 to $22,305,400, a $5.5 million increase from last year.
The increases include additional funding for the Sheriff's Department ($269,907), emergency medical services ($248,690), employee benefits ($116,463), road and bridge projects ($1,177,908), special building ($2,937,602), 911 taxes ($85,014), solid waste ($164,016), bond and interest fund ($423,135) and election fund ($95,757).
Although the mill levy increase isn't dramatic, Leavenworth County residents can expect to pay higher taxes in 2004. Earlier this summer, the Leavenworth County Appraiser's Office released new valuation numbers; the assessed valuation in the city of Basehor rose by 28 percent, the largest increase in the county.
The county's valuation increased by 10 percent.
In other budget news, although county taxes are expected to increase, taxes for residents living within the Basehor-Linwood School District will dip slightly from last year.
During a meeting Monday, Aug. 18, the Basehor-Linwood School Board approved its budget, which shows a minuscule mill levy decrease, 45.401 mills to 45.282 mills.
This is the second consecutive year the school district's mill levy has decreased. Last year, school board members approved a decrease of 53.432 mills to 45.401 mills.
Pam Chenoweth, school district senior bookkeeper, said the school district is able to decrease the mill levy because property valuations and student enrollment are rising.