With little fanfare, the Douglas County Commission on Wednesday night approved a 1993 budget that raises the county property tax levy by an estimated 2.82 mills.
The only people attending a brief public hearing on the budget were leaders of four county agencies who were curious as to whether commissioners planned any additional budget cuts. But commissioners approved the budget without discussing further cuts.
The county budget calls for a levy of 29.934 mills, the same amount commissioners agreed on during a meeting July 29. A mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 in assessed property valuation.
With the county's action, each of the local taxing bodies has set its 1993 budget and corresponding mill levy. That sets the 1992 overall levy at 107.884 mills, including 1.5 mills for the state. For the owner of an $80,000 home, the 1992 mill levy translates into $1,035.69 in property taxes, a decrease of $249.06 from 1991.
AT WEDNESDAY'S meeting, commissioners decreased the county budget by $265,000, to $20,998,450, after it was determined that an assessment for Yankee Tank Sewer District would not occur next year. The mill levy was not affected, however, because the amount already had been assessed in a previous year.
Commission Chairman Mark Buhler said he realized the budget did not meet all of the county's needs and wants, but he said he was pleased with it.
"I feel real good about keeping the tax levy under 30 mills for the property owners," Buhler said. "I wish we could have held the line, but holding it under 3 mills makes me feel pretty good since the county is being asked to provide additional services all of the time."
The budget allows for a 3 percent cost of living wage increase for county employees while not adding any new employees or services. No existing county services were cut.
During budget discussions in July, commissioners trimmed almost a mill from County Administrator Craig Weinaug's original budget recommendation, which called for a levy of 30.832 mills.
Commissioners cut the mill levy mostly from adjustments rather than cuts to departmental budgets. For example, commissioners carried over $100,000 from this year's budget for the proposed regional juvenile detention center to the 1993 budget because the project is not as far along as planned. The county also cut its delinquency rate for unpaid taxes to 4.5 percent, saving slightly more than $50,000.
Cuts of $18,000 were made in the special depreciation building fund, and $10,000 was cut from the Emergency Preparedness depreciation fund. Reductions totaling $18,261 were made in budgets for unified courts, data processing, the general maintenance accounts and the public works department.
The actual mill levy will be set in early October when the county releases the final valuation figures. Little change in the county valuation figure of $374,771,668, which was used to compute the budget, is expected.
COMMISSIONERS also gave thumbs up to a request by Chris Tantillo, Lawrence, to use Broken Arrow Park as a launch site for hot-air balloons.
Tantillo said he usually launches his balloon from Lawrence Municipal Airport northeast of town. He asked for launching privileges from the park, which is on the south edge of Lawrence, on days with northerly winds so he could avoid landing in town.
The request was placed on the agenda by County Administrator Craig Weinaug because Tantillo charges his passengers for the ride, which Weinaug said was a commercial use of public property. Tantillo assured commissioners he considered the park an alternative launch site and would not let launches interfere with events previously scheduled at the park.
IN OTHER action Wednesday, commissioners:
Approved the 1993 sewer maintenance budget, which covers 10 sewer districts and totals $88,803. No tax levy is assessed for the sewer districts because the county has funds on hand to cover the costs.
Commissioner Mike Amyx asked Weinaug to look into transferring the funds and the responsibility for the sewers to the city, because most of the districts have been usurped by the city limits.
Approved a $176,599 bid from LRM Industries Inc. of Lawrence for an asphalt and concrete mix to resurface part of Douglas County Road 1055 north of Baldwin.