Archive for Thursday, August 19, 2004

City budget offers mill levy decrease, service upgrades

August 19, 2004

The De Soto City Council shouldn't hear many objections during a public hearing Thursday on the proposed 2005 budget.

The city's $6.15 million budget maintains current utility rates, adds a new parks department employee, provides an additional $140,000 for routine street maintenance, and brings back a popular law enforcement presence -- all while reducing the mill levy.

"It's a good feeling we can do some of these things and at the same time reduce the mill levy," City Administrator Greg Johnson said.

The 2005 budget requires $50,000 less in property taxes than in this year's budget for that part of the city served by the De Soto Fire Department, primarily old-town De Soto. That part served by Johnson Country Rural Fire District No. 3 will require $129,000 less in property tax support.

Mill levies decreased from 25.078 to 24.842 mills in the city fire section and from 18.736 to 14.923 in the city's rural fire district area. A homeowner in the city fire portion of De Soto will owe the city $286 for every $100,000 of a home's appraised value. The city tax bill on a home in the rural fire district part of the city will be $171 for every $100,000 of appraised value.

The proposed 2005 budget looks especially good when compared to the one passed a year ago. Twelve months ago as he worked on his first budget as De Soto city administrator, Johnson was forced to deal with an unexpected decrease in the city's appraised valuation, a reporting error in the 2003 budget, and uncertainty about how the state's point-of-delivery sales tax initiative would affect revenue.

All those factored into a very tight budget that forced the City Council to end a contracted "power shift" with the Johnson County Sheriff's Department, which assigned an extra car to De Soto five days a week for an eight-hour span.

The city's appraised value bounced back nicely this year, Johnson said. In addition, the point-of-delivery sales tax collection has proved advantageous for the city, which allowed Johnson to start working on the budget with the knowledge that non-property tax revenue would contribute $192,000 more than in 2004.

As Johnson started discussing the 2005 budget with the City Council in late June, it was agreed the city should not increase the mill levy, reinstate a daily eight-hour power shift with the sheriff's department, and make the street department the focus of increased revenue.

The power shift would start again in January, Johnson said.

That budget process did highlight one area of concern: The appraised value for the city's fire district fell for the second straight year, Johnson said.

"That just adds to our challenges in that area," he said.

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