Saying they wanted a little more flexibility as they discussed the Unified Government 2015 budget, UG commissioners tonight set the maximum mill levy rate at 86 mills, an increase from last week’s 82-mill budget proposed by the UG administrator.
Raising the city side 2 mills to 45.5 and the county side 2 mills to 40.5, commissioners voted 7-1 to approve the maximum mill rate. They are scheduled to vote on the final budget at 7 p.m. July 31 after several more budget discussion meetings.
Last Thursday the UG administrator proposed a budget that would increase the county side 2 mills and decrease the city side 2 mills, leaving Kansas City, Kan., residents at a flat rate compared with last year’s property tax bill from the UG. The effect on Bonner Springs and Edwardsville residents, however, would be to increase the county levy, leaving it up to the cities, school district and community college whether their total bill increases.
The UG Commission last year set a higher maximum mill rate for its published budget before lowering it when it passed the final budget.
Mayor Mark Holland said Commissioner Mike Kane’s motion on the mill levy gave maximum flexibility to the commission, so that commissioners would not be taking items off the table before they even talked about them.
Commissioner Jim Walters, who represents the Bonner Springs area, called for a discussion of the proposed 2014 amended budget, asked why an increase of $2 million was needed and what would happen if the increase was not approved. Walters voted against the 86-mill maximum rate. He asked if the $2 million increase in the proposed 2014 amended budget could instead be applied to the fund balance.
Earlier in the discussion, UG chief financial officer Lew Levin addressed how the UG could shore up its reserves to strengthen its fund balances. That is critical in maintaining a good bond rating, he said. If the bond rating is lowered by credit agencies, then it would cost the UG more to borrow money in the future.
Levin suggested that the UG might spend an additional $1.8 million to strengthen fund balances.
Mayor Holland said the UG finds itself in a situation where fuel costs have gone up, pension fund costs are up, state revenues have been cut again dramatically, and the top two priorities the commission gave to the administrator were to reduce the property tax rate and restore fund balances. There was some discussion about finding $1.8 million to cut out of the budget and add it to the fund balances.
“That’s the tension we’re in for the next several weeks as we figure this budget out,” Mayor Holland said.
A public hearing on the budget is scheduled at 5 p.m. July 28 at City Hall. The budget meeting calendar is at http://www.wycokck.org/InternetDept.aspx?id=31161.
The budget documents are at http://www.wycokck.org/InternetDept.aspx?id=9730&menu_id=954&banner=15284.
To see an earlier story about the budget, visit http://wyandottedaily.com/ug-administrator-proposes-no-increase-in-overall-kck-tax-rate-for-2015/