The Douglas County Commission on Wednesday reached its goal of a 1993 budget under 30 mills by refiguring its delinquent tax rate and by trimming a few dollars in other areas.
Commissioners agreed to publish a total budget of $21,263,450 that carries a mill levy of 29.934 mills. A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 in assessed property valuations.
Since County Adminstrator Craig Weinaug released his budget proposal on July 17, commissioners had cut almost a mill from the original proposed levy of 30.832 mills.
But the 29.934 levy represents an increase of 2.82 mills from the 1992 levy of 27.114 mills. The increase means that the county's share of taxes on an $80,000 home would increase by $27.08 next year to $287.37.
The county brought the 1993 levy under the 30-mill mark by adjusting the delinquency rate used to cover unpaid taxes. Weinaug originally proposed a 5 percent delinquency rate, which the county historically uses when figuring its budget. He decreased the rate to 4.5 percent, saving slightly more than $50,000 in property taxes.
WEINAUG said he was comfortable with the adjustment because the delinquency rate usually runs between 2.5 percent and 4.5 percent.
Commissioners also shaved the budgets in four other areas. The affected cuts were $6,618 from unified courts; $6,328 from data processing, which was a savings realized when the county approved a direct inward dialing telephone system instead of an automated system; $4,000 from the general maintenance account, which can be covered from another building fund; and $1,315 from the public works department.
Once the budget is published, it cannot be increased. A public hearing on the budget is set for Aug. 19. The mill levy will be finalized in early October when the final valuation figures are released by the county. The current county valuation of $374,771,668 is not expected to change much when the final valuation is announced.
WEINAUG recommended the tax increase to maintain current services and provide funding for areas of the budget previously covered by reserve accounts of county departments and agencies.
He said he was pleased to finish the budget process, especially since he worked on two budgets this year. The other budget was for the city of Ardmore, Okla., where Weinaug was city manager until he was hired by Douglas County.
"I'm looking forward to the budget preparation next year because I'll be in a much better position to have a full understanding of what the nature of the county's operations are and will be in a position to do a more thorough job on the review of county expenditures," Weinaug said.
Commission Chairman Mark Buhler was out of town and missed the meeting.
ALSO ON Wednesday, commissioners:
Approved a resolution authorizing the county to issue $700,000 in industrial revenue bonds for Cottonwood Inc., 2801 W. 31st, to renovate and expand.
Approved a resolution designating the new interchange connecting the South Lawrence Trafficway with the Kansas Turnpike as the Lecompton Interchange.
Approved the vacation of the plat of the Seas Subdivision, located 2 miles west of Lawrence and 1 miles south of U.S. Highway 40.
Received Ben Shore's resignation from the Douglas County Advocacy Council on Aging.