Archive for Thursday, May 1, 2003

City looks to hold line on taxes

Initial figures indicate no tax increase

May 1, 2003

Although still months away from approving the 2004 budget, preliminary estimates indicate the city of Basehor shouldn't need to raise taxes next year.

"Right now, my initial submittal to the City Council will not have a tax rate increase," said Baron Powell, Basehor city treasurer. "That's early, but that's what I'm going to submit."

Basehor city officials will begin the budget process during a work session May 19.

Although Powell doesn't recommend a mill levy increase, things could change when the final budget is completed.

A mill is $1 for every $1,000 of assessed property valuation. One mill equals approximately $13,500 of revenue to the city.

During the May hearing, city officials and department heads will begin polishing a budget that's currently "80 percent" complete, Powell said.

"We'll look at everything the departments want," he said. "Major projects, new (employee) hires, all those things factor into the final budget."

The city's current mill levy is 29.125. Its total operating budget is $7,263,935, which is spread throughout 11 different funds.

The city's recent boom in residential growth has affected the budget during recent years, Powell said.

"Absolutely it has," he said. "Five or six years ago, this city had no debt at all. Now, we have millions of dollars and that's because of the growth."

However, the new growth and expansion have garnered the city revenue to help offset that debt, he added.

"We are on the front end of our growth spurt, which means money is coming in, in large chunks at times," Powell said. "The growth-related money is funneled into the cost of expansion to pay off the debt."

With a flagging economy, many Kansas municipalities are feeling financial pains. Basehor has been available to avoid those pains through the new growth revenues and by over-budgeting at times, Powell said.

"We tend to worst-case our revenue and expenses," he said.

This allows the city to keep reserve money available, city officials said.

"Whether it's an opportunity or crisis, we have the money to pay for it," Powell said.

Should the city hold the line on taxes for 2004, it would be the second consecutive year Basehor has kept its mill levy in check.

After a significant 12-mill increase in 2002, the city did not raise taxes in 2002.

An area where Basehor taxpayers could see an increase is the sewer and solid waste rates.

"Right now, the plan is to have a 4 percent increase in sewer and solid waste over the next four years," Powell said. "My goal is to keep any sewer rate increase under 5 percent."

The 2004 budget must be submitted to the Leavenworth County Clerk's office by Aug. 25.

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