Archive for Thursday, July 21, 2005

Continued diligence needed on spending

July 21, 2005

News out of City Hall last week should be a welcome relief for property owners within the city limits of Lansing.

The projected levy should go down this year by nearly a mill even while spending in the city's 2006 general fund increases nearly $600,000. For the owner of a home valued at $100,000, the lower mill levy would mean about a $20 decrease when property tax statements go out at the end of this year.

City officials credit their ability to lower the levy while increasing spending with the overall rise in assessed property valuation. As the city grows and houses, offices and retail outlets are built, the tax roll grows. For the 2006 budget, the growth amounted to more than $7 million in assessed valuation - a one-year increase of 13 percent.

The growth heralds that good times continue to shine on Lansing.

But let's not be fooled. Not all of that growth is on newly constructed properties. A lot of it comes with increased assessments on existing homes and businesses. The average residential property valuation in Leavenworth County grew by 10 percent this year. Translation: Unless the mill levy decreases by a similar amount, homeowners are likely to see an increase in their property taxes.

Still unknown are the effects of the school district and county budgets on the mill levy, but one thing is clear: The cost of doing business likely will continue to grow.

Lansing's mayor, city administrator and City Council all have a reputation as being hard-nosed in looking at the bottom line. On more than one occasion in the past six months, a City Council member has issued a reminder that the council is the taxpayer's watchdog.

It takes that kind of diligence year-round, not just at budget time, to make sure expenditures are in the best interest of the taxpayers.

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