Property tax bills up 8 percent for Wyandotte County

Paper: Kansas City Star, The (MO)
Title: Property tax bills up 8 percent for Wyandotte County
Author: ROBERT A. CRONKLETON and JIM SULLINGER, The Kansas City Star
Date: December 19, 2007
Section: WYCO
Page: WY1

Most Wyandotte County taxpayers are seeing higher property tax bills this year, with homeowners in the Piper and Bonner Springs school districts seeing the largest average increases.

The Kansas City Star examined tax bills for 45,000 homes in Wyandotte County and 144,000 homes in Johnson County.

The data analysis found that owners of single-family homes in Wyandotte County are paying an average of $109 more in real estate taxes than they did last year; Johnson County homeowners are paying an average of $95 more. At least the first half payment of property taxes is due in by Thursday.

An examination of appraisal data earlier this year by The Star showed that properties designated as single-family residences and built before 2006 rose about 8 percent in Wyandotte County.

However those living in the Piper area in the northwestern part of the county saw some of the largest average increases in the county, according to an analysis of the data.

Officials attributed the jump in values to a real estate market out west that was getting stronger.

Wyandotte County Appraiser Gene Bryan said that although there has been some downturn this year in the average sales price per square foot in some areas, there are other areas where the average sale price is still going up — albeit slightly.

Despite the slowing market, Bryan said some properties are undervalued and could see their appraised values increase.

The jump in appraisals came at the time the county lost a key ruling the appraised value of the Nebraska Furniture Mart. The Kansas Board of Tax Appeals earlier this year significantly reduced the appraised value of Nebraska Furniture Mart for 2003 and 2004. The move was estimated to cost Wyandotte County taxing jurisdictions more than $1 million in property tax revenue and interest.

The county has appealed the decision, and the case is still pending, according to the court records.

Steve Adams, superintendent for the Piper School District, said the district had to raise its levy to accommodate lost tax revenues due to the ruling. The district’s levy also increased slightly to cover a loss in state aid it no longer qualified for because of the valuation of residential and commercial properties in the district.

Adams said the levy will go up slightly again next year because of the $29.9 million bond issue voters recently approved. That would place the district’s levy at close to the same level it was in 2005, he said.

Meanwhile, the Bonner Springs/Edwardsville School District saw an increase in its levy in part to cover the costs associated with an increase in at-risk students, an increase in students eligible for busing and the furnishing of a new school — Delaware Ridge Elementary School, said Charles Thomas, the district’s director of business and legal services.

The city of Edwardsville also raised its mill levy.

The school was built as part of an $18.7 million bond issue that voters approved in 2005, which also accounts for increases in the district levy over the past two years.

Chuck Henry, the Unified Government’s treasurer, said that every year people who are upset at their appraisals come in to his office. The property owners do not believe that their properties are worth as much the appraised value.

“We expected a lot of protests last year, and they weren’t that much different than previous years,” Henry said. “We are kind of interested to see how we fare out this year.”

Overall the total real estate tax bills for Wyandotte County, which include both residential and commercial properties, were $161 million this year, up $20 million from $141 million for last year, Henry said.

Property tax bills went up this year in Johnson County as well, but there is a bit of good news from the 144,000 mailed to homeowners there.

The average increase has been dropping the last three years.

The rate of that growth has slowed over the last three years, reflecting a cooler real estate market and slightly lower property tax rates in the Olathe and Blue Valley school districts.

Between 2004 and 2005 the average tax increase for homes in Johnson County was $200. That shrank to $123 a year later and then $95 for tax bills delivered recently. Those averages do not include properties appearing on the tax rolls for the first time.

Paul Welcome, county appraiser, said this year’s tax bills reflected tax rates set in August by local governments as well as appraisals completed last year.

John A. Bartolac, Johnson County clerk, reported recently that all real estate values, including homes, increased 7.12 percent compared with the increase last year of 8.19 percent.

An analysis of appraisal records by The Star found that single-family home appraisal values increased 6 percent in Johnson County compared with an almost 7 percent increase last year.

WYANDOTTE COUNTY PROPERTY TAXES

*By school district 2007 tax bill 2006 tax bill Difference Percent increase
Kansas City, Kan. $1,352 $1,269 $83 6.5
Turner $1,949 $1,845 $104 5.6
Bonner Springs $2,556 $2,294 $262 11.4
Piper $3,618 $3,348 $270 8.1

JOHNSON COUNTY PROPERTY TAXES

*By school district 2007 tax bill 2006 tax bill Difference Percentincrease
Shawnee Mission $2,633 $2,539 $94 3.7
Olathe $3,006 $2,923 $83 2.8
Blue Valley $4,492 $4,391 $101 2.3
Spring Hill $2,716 $2,551 $165 6.5
De Soto $3,596 $3,458 $138 4.0
Gardner- Edgerton $2,513 $2,442 $71 2.9

*Note: The tax bill averages in these charts are composed of levies from schools, cities, counties, community colleges, the state and special taxing districts. They were sorted by the school district each taxpayer lives in. School levies generally make up between 40 and 60 percent of each tax bill. Consequently, increases or decreases in the school levy influence tax bills to a larger extent.

Homes built after 2005 and those not on the tax rolls last year were not included in this data analysis.

Author: ROBERT A. CRONKLETON and JIM SULLINGER, The Kansas City Star
Section: WYCO
Page: WY1

Copyright (c) 2007 The Kansas City Star

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