Archive for Wednesday, August 19, 2009

County puts finishing touches on budget

A World War I doughboy statue stands outside the Leavenworth County Courthouse.

A World War I doughboy statue stands outside the Leavenworth County Courthouse.

August 19, 2009

They’ve gone through the books, they’ve made some cuts, they’ve listened to the public and on Monday county officials rolled up their sleeves one more time to make cuts before approving their 2010 budgets.

In the end of July, Leavenworth County commissioners had proposed a 1-mill increase to the 2010 budget. The reason for the increase, they said, comes from the need to relocate the county's EMS headquarters.

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

Commissioners chose not to put the proposed $1.5 million EMS headquarters project to a bond, but instead opted to pay for part of the project with money from the $569,000 raised with the 1 mill increase and in part from the available $2.2 million in the county’s capital improvement fund.

But when it came time to vote, two commissioners did not go for the increase.

“I do not support the 1 mill increase,” Commissioner Clyde Graeber said before making a motion to reduce the mill increase. “I think it’s higher than it needs to be.”

Graeber wanted to take more money out of the capital improvement fund to offset the mill increase.

Commissioner J.C. Tellefson seconded Graeber’s motion to cut the mill increase and the two voted in favor to accept the 2010 budget with the reduced increase. Commissioner John Flower voted against the reduction, stating his concern that by not having the extra $284,500 cushion from the extra half mill increase, the county would be decreasing the capital improvement fund too much.

“Essentially, if there is another major capital improvement project the commissioners want to take on, you are in the position where you will need to bond it,” County Administrator Heather Morgan told the commissioners.

The new tax levy for 2010 will be 32.06 mills.

The new tax increase will be an extra $8.63 in property taxes for a $150,000 home.

During the public budget hearing, county residents discussed things such as the 2 percent cost of living adjustment for county employees and the cut of $71,250 to historical groups in the county.

Marguerite Strange, with the Leavenworth Historical Museum Association, understood the county’s need to keep taxes low, but implored the commissioners to help the association if possible.

“We are working very hard to try to keep our mortgages paid,” Strange said. “We thought if there was any place you could find something to give us we would appreciate the help. We have the volunteers, but we don’t have the money to keep up the materials for our old museums.”

Commissioners agreed if there were any major emergencies in 2010 the county would find money to help the museums.

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