Archive for Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Taxing times: county, city struggle with budgets

February 19, 2003

Although the final budget won't be approved until late August, Leavenworth County officials expect to increase taxes next year.

But how much the mill levy will increase is unknown at this point because more reductions in state aid could be coming, county officials said.

"We're not sure how much it's going to end up being," Leavenworth County Commissioner Joe Daniels said.

A mill is $1 per every $1,000 of assessed property valuation. One mill brings in roughly $380,000 in revenue in Leavenworth County.

The county mill levy is 40.163 mills.

"We are etched in stone as far as what we can do. We have no cushion," he added, citing that state aid reductions have cost the county $1.2 million in funding this year.

And county officials expect to lose at least $1.2 million in funding next year, Daniels said.

"We're going to get wacked that same way again," he said.

County officials have taken steps to stem the financial shortfall by placing a freeze on new hirings, and employee raises, and reviewing whether to replace positions where employees have quit.

Fortunately, the state reductions have not forced the county to cut employee positions, Daniels said.

"We're doing our best not to reduce the work force at this time," he said.

The county commission reviewed budget figures with department heads Wednesday. Daniels said the goal is to reduce departmental budgets by 10 percent if possible.

The state is facing a nearly $1 billion budget deficit. Expected incoming revenues have frequently come under projections causing the deficit.

And word from state officials is that the financial dilemma isn't improving and more cutbacks are coming, Daniels said.

"They can't clamp down on us any more," he said. "But what they can cut back on is money we get through grants."

In Basehor, the uncertainty over the mill levy is much the same.

However, Basehor treasurer Baron Powell said he hopes to keep it near 30 mills. The current mill levy for city tax payers is 28.662 mills.

"A mill levy of approximately 30 mills is reasonable," Powell said.

"My recommendation based on what I know right now is to keep the mill levy around 30."

City and County officials will approve final budgets in August.

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