Archive for Thursday, July 2, 1992

INCREASES IN VALUATION TO AID IN MILL LEVY BATTLE

July 2, 1992

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The assessed valuation of property for Douglas County, Lawrence and the Lawrence school district each rose about 3 percent in 1992, according to figures released today by the Douglas County budget director.

The three bodies will use these latest numbers as they shape their budgets for 1993, said Darlene Hill, budget director.

City and county officials said today that despite the relatively small increase in valuations, they will try to maintain current property tax levels.

If the city and county maintain their current levies, Douglas County residents are sure to see a dip in property taxes due to a new state law that regulates school district levies.

Current figures for Douglas County show assessed valuation to be $374,771,668, roughly 11.7 million more than 1991. The Lawrence school district shows a $9.7 million increase in assessed valuations, up to $325,109,865. The value of property in Lawrence rose $7.2 million to $271,528,529.

"WE HOPED that it would be more," said Rod Bremby, assistant city manager. "We're having to adjust our budget so we can deliver it without any type of levy increase."

Residents currently are taxed about 77 mills by the school district, 28 mills by the city, and 22 mills by the county. A mill is $1 in property taxes for every $1,000 of assessed valuation.

Marion Johnson, county appraiser, said there wasn't much of an increase in valuations this year due to a state-mandated moratorium on real estate valuation.

"We didn't re-evaluate the property from last year," Johnson said. The only increases in real estate valuations came from new buildings or additions to buildings.

The 3.1 percent increase in the Lawrence school district's assessed valuation could translate into a slightly lower mill levy for the district than if the valuation had remained the same.

THIS SCHOOL year, the Kansas Legislature set a statewide general fund levy of 32 mills for school districts across Kansas, and that 32-mill figure will not be affected by fluctuations in property valuations.

However, the Lawrence school board has the option to raise the district's general fund mill levy beyond the 32 mills to bring in as much as $2.9 million in additional revenues.

It had been estimated that 7.4 mills would be required to bring in the full $2.9 million. However, with the reported increase in the district's property valuation, the levy required would be closer to 7 mills, said Craig Fiegel, the district's director of business and facilities.

The district also levies about 8 mills outside the general fund, for such items as capital improvements and bond and interest payments. Fiegel said the mill levy required for those budgets also could decrease slightly with the increased valuation.

IF THE Lawrence school board were to fully exercise its local option, the district's total levy would be about 50.1 mills in 1992-93, a savings of about 27 mills from 1991-92.

The school disctrict would need to levy about 46.6 mills to cover the same expenditures the following year. Because only about half of property tax revenues are available to the district before the start of the school year, the first year of the local option funding requires a slightly larger mill levy.

Lawrence City Manager Mike Wildgen said today that he was confident at this point the city could maintain its current mill levy.

"Property tax is just another factor in the budget," he said. "This year (1992) it's about $7.4 million out of a $44 million budget. But it's always our goal to keep the mill levy down."

Wildgen said there would not be much of an increase in city services in 1993. "I have a whole page of new things departments want to do, but not many of them are going to get them."

DOUGLAS COUNTY Commission Chairman Mark Buhler said today that he wasn't sure how the increase would effect the county budget.

"We are intent on maintaining the (county's current) mill levy," he said. "We are going to do our best to realize the benefit to taxpayers from the school finance bill."

The local taxing units will use the latest valuation figures in setting their 1993 budgets. However, those budgets must be turned into the state before the county sets its final assessed valuations for 1993 taxes on Oct. 1. The final mill levy will be computed using the Oct. 1 valuations.

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