Archive for Thursday, September 7, 2006

County lowers mill levy

September 7, 2006

— Property owners are getting a tax break from Leavenworth County.

County commissioners this week approved the 2007 county budget, which places the estimated levy at 28.232 mills - more than 7.7 mills lower than this year's budget.

A mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 in assessed valuation.

For the owner of a house valued at $100,000, the county's portion of the property tax bill will drop to $324.67 from $413.44 a year ago.

County Clerk Linda Scheer, who presented the budget to commissioners at the onset of a public hearing Wednesday, said there were several reasons for the mill levy decrease:

¢ The county has completed multiyear renovations to the courthouse, which had required about $2.5 million in 2006.

¢ The county experienced unanticipated increases in revenues.

¢ Interest rates have proved favorable to the county.

¢ Mortgage fees collected by the county have shot up appreciably as homeowners continue to refinance their mortgages.

¢ Assessed valuation was up countywide by about 8 percent.

"When revenues are up, taxes can go down," Scheer said.

Replied Commissioner Clyde Graeber, "I'm very pleased with that."

Commission chairman Dean Oroke noted the difference between the percentage increase in assessed valuation and the percentage decrease in the mill levy was a net 11.5 percent in favor of taxpayers.

"That's a very positive step in the county holding the line on the taxes," he said.

Spending by the county in 2007 is slated to decrease nearly $2.4 million from a year ago to a total of $43.28 million.

"We really held the line as far as spending," said Steve Wagner, a certified public accountant who advises the commission on its budget. "That's a feather in the cap for your department heads as well as yourselves."

The budget news was tempered somewhat for property owners in unincorporated areas of the county, though. The commission on Wednesday also approved a "local services budget" that calls for a levy increase of 7.088 mills.

The local services budget pays for such services as roadwork in the unincorporated areas. Among the reasons cited for the rise in the mill levy was an unexpected additional $200,000 cost in the county's share of a joint project with the city of Lansing to improve 147th Street, Oroke said.

Commissioners, who approved the budget unanimously, said the mill levies they cited were only estimates.

The actual levy will be set in mid-October when final valuation figures for the year are calculated, Scheer said.

No one from the public spoke during the public hearing.


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