Archive for Thursday, July 19, 2007

Preliminary figures suggest rise in mill levy

July 19, 2007

Leavenworth County Commissioners have yet to announce the official budget for 2008 but if a preliminary meeting Wednesday is any indication of what is in store, county residents could see as much as a 6-mill increase in property taxes next year.

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

If the preliminary figures do not change and the mill levy is set at 34 mills, the owner of a home valued at $100,000 would pay approximately $391 to fund the county budget in 2008, about $66 more than this year.

Commission Chairman J.C. Tellefson said the bottom line proposed expenditures for the county are at $49.3 million compared to the $43.3 million that was approved for 2007.

That figure does not include salary increases and changes in benefits for county employees.

Tellefson stressed, however, that all figures are in the initial stages, with an official budget scheduled for release in August.

"We've got to start cutting," he said.

Commissioner Clyde Graeber agreed that now is the time to go back and begin trimming the larger budgets that county departments have submitted.

"We're being a little aggressive in our expenditures, and we're low-balling our revenue," said certified public accountant Steve Wagner, who advises the commission on its budget.

Wagner said he still has some information to compile. "So we'll be getting more money in than we're budgeting for. If we are short, though, we want to know now and not next year when we don't have a carryover balance," he said.

There was some discrepancy in exactly how much in unexpended funds would be available to start 2008.

Tellefson said the commission is shooting for no more than a 1 percent increase on the mill levy and would like to see it swing no more than five mills in either direction.

Wagner agreed.

"What you don't want is big fluxes one way or the other," Wagner said.

The levy, which was set at 28.232 mills for 2007, was a drop of more than seven mills from 2006, which partially led to the proposed increase for next year.

Other causes for an increased projected budget are plans for a new Emergency Medical Services building, a $2.5 million increase requested by County Road and Bridge and more than 10 percent increased requests from the Planning and Zoning, County Clerk's and Emergency Management offices.

Other large-scale projects, including improvements to County Road 1 leading to a proposed interchange with Interstate 70 and a communications upgrade for county emergency service providers, could be drawn from the voter-approved 1-cent sales tax that runs until 2016 or from bond issues.

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