Archive for Thursday, August 11, 2005

Proposed city mill levy to rise slightly

August 11, 2005

With the need to replenish a dwindling debt service fund, the De Soto City Council will likely approve a slight increase in its overall mill levy for 2006.

The city's proposed 2006 budget -- published in the Aug. 4 issue of the Explorer -- would increase the city's overall mill levy from the 2005 level of 24.785 mills to 24.948 mills. Those living in that part of De Soto served by Johnson County Rural Fire District No. 3 will see a larger increase as the mill levy rises from 2005's 14.929 mills to the proposed 2006 level of 16.155 mills.

The De Soto City Council will have a public hearing on the budget Aug. 18 before taking final action.

Mill levies in published budgets are estimates based on numbers provided from the county in early July. The published budgets fix expenditure limits, which can only be changed with republication of budgets.

The proposed $6.2 million budget does not add staff, City Administrator Greg Johnson said.

The budget does have a line item for debt service absent in the last two budgets. Johnson said his proposed budget would collect $200,000 for debt service from a 3.699 mill levy. The debt service fund was spent down the past two years at the council's decision to concentrate resources in other areas, he said.

The debt service fund provides dollars to retire a 2001 street improvement bond, the renovation of City Hall and -- starting this year -- the new pool.

The city's taxing authority for the De Soto Fire Department is limited to what is essentially the old-town area. After two years of declining assessment, the city fire district increased significantly this year with the end of the abatement on the Huhtamaki Americas plant and headquarters. That allowed Johnson to propose spending more than $14,000 on the department while actually reducing its mill levy support.

"The one area that probably received more attention was the fire department," the city administrator said. "It will allow us to do more training and get more tools and equipment and more first responder supplies."

The only utility fee increase recommended is a sewer rate hike approved earlier this year during discussions of revenue needed to pay for the new sewer treatment plant. At that time, 1-cent stepped increases were approved on those customers using more than 1,000 gallons of water a month. The $9.50 per month base rate will remain the same.

The city's budget, like all those in Johnson County, is incomplete. Johnson won't learn how much money he has to work with until Sept. 27, when voters make a decision on the county's quarter-cent sales tax that provide economic development grants to county school districts. Last month, the Johnson County Commission agreed to put a three-year extension of that tax before voters Sept. 27.

Should that tax be approved, his recommendation was that the council use the revenue for maintenance projects, including new roofs for the senior center and the city shop.

A mill equals $1 of tax for every $1,000 of a property's assessed value. At De Soto's proposed 2006 mill levies, the city would collect $574 on a $200,000 home in the area of the city it provides fire service and $372 on a home of the same value in fire district No. 3.

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