De Soto to see overall mill levy increase
Despite the good news Monday that the school district's anticipated 3-mill increase apparently won't materialize, De Soto property owners in the city will still see an overall tax increase.
The overall increase can be attributed to the city and Johnson County Fire District No. 3. Like De Soto USD 232, the other three taxing jurisdictions -- Johnson County Community College, the De Soto Cemetery Board and Johnson County -- either maintained 2006 mill levies or decreased them.
Spending levels and not mill levies are fixed when budgets are approved in July and August for the next year. Final mill levies will be affixed to expenditure levels when the Johnson County Records and Tax Administration Office gets final assessment numbers in September. Mill levies rarely change much in that time, and when they do they usually decline slightly.
De Soto USD 232 finance director Ken Larsen said the 3-mill increase he projected to the school board in early July was a "worst case" scenario done before he had state financial numbers or those for the county regarding car taxes. Once those numbers were in, the district's administration was able to propose a budget for the 2006-2007 school year that increased the local option budget by about 1.5 mills and still decreased the district's overall mill levy slightly, he said.
"We feel good about that," Larsen said.
The same was not true for the city. The De Soto City Council approved a 2007 budget last Thursday that increased the mill levy. At an earlier budget workshop, City Administrator Pat Guilfoyle said the increase was needed as the city starts paying off the new swimming pool and to replenish the city's debt service fund. Also affecting the budget for part of the city was another decrease in assessment in that part of the city that supports the De Soto Fire Department.
The $11 million budget will raise the property tax assessment 1.48 mills in that part of the city served by the De Soto Fire Department (primarily De Meadows and De Soto west of Lexington Avenue) and .86 mills in the large section of the city in Johnson County Fire District No. 3.
An increase in the fire district's mill levy will more than offset the difference for those living in that part of the city. Fire district operations manager Mark Billquest said the district needed to increase its mill levy to 9.677 to support its 2007 budget of $613,000. The fire district 2006 mill levy was 8.366 mills.
Detachments of Olathe properties, changes with the fire contract for the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant and the need to increase starting firefighters' salaries to stay competitive accounted for the mill levy hike, Billquest said.
The fire district does have a $60,000 contract with Sunflower Redevelopment LLC to provide fire service to the plant in 2007, Billquest said. That is far less than the $135,000 annual contract the fire district once had to provide fire service at the plant, he said.