“Taxpayers to see stable mill levys in 2006”

The following article appeared in the Johnson County Sun.

“Taxpayers to see stable mill levys in 2006”
Johnson County Sun

Taxpayers across Johnson County will see stable property tax mill levies for 2006.

Only one city in The Sun’s coverage area is planning a tax increase. The rest plan to hold the line on taxes in 2006.

Also, two school district’s will decrease taxes while another plans for an increase.

All taxing jurisdictions must have their adopted budgets submitted to the county by Aug. 25.

Overland Park
The Overland Park City Council adopted a $225 million budget for 2006 that will bring new police officers and firefighters, and more funding for street maintenance projects to the city.

The property tax rate will remain unchanged from last year at 9.037 mills, meaning the owner of a $200,000 home still will pay about $208 in property taxes to the city.

Under the 2006 budget, funding for storm water drainage and street maintenance projects will increase. Street and traffic system maintenance will receive $1.7 million more than usual, thanks to revenues from local compensating use taxes that relate to Internet sales.

The council also adopted the 2006-2010 Capital Improvements Program, which has allocated $62.3 million for projects scheduled in 2006. Those projects include the $16.3 million construction of the new Overland Park Community Center in the downtown area and the $3.3 million remodeling of the Antioch Justice Center, Sanders Justice Center and Tomahawk Ridge Community Center.

Northeast Johnson County
Property taxes will see a modest decrease in Mission Hills, while Fairway, Prairie Village, Roeland Park and Westwood Hills will maintain their mill levys.

Westwood has the largest property tax increase in the county – 3.658 mills, which takes the current mill levy from 13.090 mills to 16.748 mills.

The Prairie Village City Council approved the city’s 2006 budget for $21.5 million. The spending plan represents a 25 percent increase from the 2005 budget of $17.2 million while maintaining the 2005 mill levy rate of $15.84 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Under the 2006 budget, the owner of a $200,000 home in Prairie Village will pay about $364 per year in city property tax. A major factor in the budget increase is the city’s commitment to maintaining street and storm drainage infrastructure. Nearly one-third of the total budget, or $7.2 million, is earmarked for infrastructure improvements, with more than half of the funding coming from grants.

Northwest Johnson County
Shawnee residents can count themselves lucky once again as the governing body stands firm in its goal to maintain the city’s current 20.85 mill levy in 2006. The city has steadily decreased or maintained the mill levy since 1994.

The council also approved a total budget amount of $61.7 million, which represents about a 2.6 percent increase from 2005’s estimated budget.

City Manager Gary Montague has informed council members that they should be prepared to raise taxes within the next two years.

Montague recommended a 2 mill increase, which would result in $46 more in property tax per year for the owner of a $200,000 house. Even a 1 mill increase would result in an extra $650,000 per year for the city, he said.

According to the city’s debt service need analysis, the city will slide into negative figures, roughly minus $4.5 million, by 2009. That amount will almost double every year thereafter.

“Basically, in 2009 we run out of money,” Montague said, based on all the Capital Improvement Plan items budgeted up to that point.

City revenue will increase in 2006, thanks to the newly adopted stormwater utility fee. The collection of this fee will generate $35,714. Fifty-eight percent of Shawnee’s revenue is generated by sales tax, with the rest coming from service fees, franchise fees, fines, licenses and permits.

Montague said the city has consistently took in more money than it spent from 1997 to 2003. However, in 2004 and so far this year, the city has spent more than it is receiving in revenue.

Lenexa’s 2006 city budget focuses on infrastructure needs. Allocating additional funds towards taking care of several infrastructure items follows strategic city goals established by the governing body earlier this year.

“These are things that have been pent up over the last couple years but we’ve not had the necessary resources to address them,” Wade said.

Lenexa’s total recommended budget is $88.3 million, a 4.3 percent increase from 2005’s $84.7 million budget.

In addition, the proposed budget shows no signs of a property tax increase and the mill levy will remain 26.513, which will generate $23.8 million in revenue.

Being able to maintain the mill levy, Wade said, is due to a 4.8 percent increase in assessed valuation from $866.5 million to $908.2 million, a projected 30 percent increase in natural gas service franchise tax, a projected 20 percent increase in compensating-use tax and a projected 10 percent increase in motor vehicle tax collection.

According to City Administrator Quinn Bennion, there are no significant changes anticipated in Merriam’s 2006 budget, which shows no signs of a tax increase for property owners. The mill levy will be maintained at 19.275 mills, which last increased in 2003 from 18.526 mills.

The city anticipates a slight assessed valuation increase based on early estimates by the county appraiser. Last year’s preliminary assessed valuation was about $150 million.

The city’s five-year capital improvement budget typically is comparable to the city’s operating budget, which should increase in 2006 by 5.3 percent, or from $14.4 million to $15.2 million.

School districts
Property taxes will rise in Shawnee Mission by nearly 5 mills, but the district will continue to have the lowest property tax rate of all public school districts in Johnson County.

The mill levy last year was 42.655 mills; the district board has adopted a 2005-06 levy of 49.759 mills. The $187.4 million budget includes a surplus for tentative salary increases.

The district also received $15.5 million from the state’s new funding plan and began adding staff in late July.

The Blue Valley School District is spending $6.9 million more this year, but the property tax for schools will go down, said Jenny Newel, executive director of business and finance.

The district is using all of the local option budget, which increased from 25 percent to 27 percent after the state Legislature’s summer session. However a 6.4 percent increase in property value in the district means the mill levy will go from 62.12 mills last year to 61.39 this year.

The owner of a $250,000 house will pay $21 less for Blue Valley schools.

Deputy Superintendent Al Hanna said he was certain the district would provide salary increases.

“One item that makes our situation different than Shawnee Mission and Olathe is we did not receive the same amount of new money,” Hanna said.

The Shawnee Mission and Olathe school districts both have more than three times the number of at-risk students than Blue Valley, which is one of several factors in the financial gap. Olathe received about $19 million in new funds and Shawnee Mission received $12.9 million.

Olathe’s public school teachers will make at least 7.5 percent more money than they did last year.

The compensation increase is part of the proposed 2005-06 budget. The proposed budget calls for a levy of 68.1 mills. The current levy is 69.177.

The Olathe district received about $19 million through the state’s new finance formula. Olathe’s continued growth and number of low-income students contributed to the additional money. The district anticipates 650 new students this year.