Archive for Wednesday, September 5, 2007

County approves budget with no mill levy increase

September 5, 2007

Leavenworth County commissioners have put the finishing touches on the county's 2008 budget, forecasting increased spending but with a steady mill levy rate.

The $53.3 million budget approved after a public hearing Thursday is 18.4 percent higher than the county's estimated spending for 2007, yet commissioners found a way to hold the line on property taxes.

At the beginning of their meeting Thursday, commissioners faced a proposed budget calling for a levy increase of 1.46 mills..

A mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 in assessed valuation. For an owner of a $150,000 home, that would have equated to a $25 increase in property tax rates.

Commissioner Clyde Graeber voiced his disapproval with any mill levy increase Thursday. Ultimately, all three commissioners voted to approve keeping it at the 2007 rate, 28.181 mills.

"The budget contains a mill levy increase which, while only approximately 1.46 mills, I believe is unnecessary," Graeber said.

He suggested reducing from approximately $2.5 million to $1.7 million the amount of leftover sales tax money raised for Justice Center improvements to be transferred out of the county general fund into the capital improvement fund.

Graeber said the general capital improvement fund, which is now set at $3.6 million would be "more than ample for the projects scheduled for 2008," which include a new Emergency Medical Services building and a new kitchen and trusty area in the basement of the Justice Center.

Also easing the burden on taxpayers was a $27.l million countywide increase in assessed value to draw upon. Total valuation now is $559.1 million, compared to $532 million a year ago.

Commission Chairman J.C. Tellefson emphasized that, if valuations continue to rise again this year, property owners may actually see a reduction in the mill levy for 2008. Valuation will be certified later this year. Tax statements will go out in October to property owners, with first-half taxes due in December.

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