Archive for Wednesday, July 24, 2002

County’s tax rate to remain stable

July 24, 2002

Leavenworth County residents take heart the county's 2003 mill levy will not go up. In fact, it could go down.

The 2002 mill levy was set at 41.318 mills, said Stephen Wagner, of Wagner and Associates, Leavenworth, who is helping with budget preparation.

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

"I would say that it would be that or a little less than that," Wagner said.

But it's still too early to say for certain, Wagner said Tuesday.

"Today and tomorrow we're going through the general fund," Wagner said. "It would be premature to say what those numbers are until we get through that."

Last year's total county budget was $37,290,596.

Commissioners this year directed department heads to limit their 2003 proposed budgets to an increase of no more than 1.6 percent.

These first figures came in at a slight decrease from 2002, but Commissioner Don Navinsky declined to say how much, because the commissioners are still working with the budget.

"I personally think I'd like to see more of a decrease," Navinsky said.

Commissioner Joe Daniels said the three commissioners are trying to figure out how state finances will affect county finances.

"The Legislature passed the budget but it was under-funded by about $50 million," Daniels said. "What that boils down to is it may impact us because there's a lot of money up there that the governor can withhold that can affect our budget."

Earlier this year, commissioners had thought that state laws might change so that counties lacking a community college would no longer pay tuition on students who attend community college classes in other counties. But that didn't happen.

"We were supposed to have that automatic reduction in junior college money," Daniels said.

Last year the county's payment to community colleges was close to $600,000, he said.

"If you think about a mill being $380,000 poof those kinds of things can mount up in a hurry," Daniels said.

Expected to cause a slight decrease in the mill levy is the county infirmary, which this year was turned over to a private enterprise.

"We'll probably still have a little residual in there because some bills haven't come in yet," Daniels said. "But essentially that money is not going to be levied."

Wagner said that in 2002, 2.8 mills, which generated $983,000 went to the county infirmary.

All in all, county funds have been tight, and Daniels said departments would need to continue to hold a tight watch on spending.

"We're going to have to," Daniels said. "Because last year was just awful to us and we came very, very close with our budget it was scary how close we came."

So far, all jobs have been retained, he said.

"We haven't laid off anybody at this point, but we're going to have to be frugal with what staff and what resources we have," Daniels said.

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