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Archive for Thursday, July 23, 1998

PROPERTY TAXES CONTINUE SLIDE

July 23, 1998

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The combined mill levy for Lawrence taxpayers weighs in at 98.682, down from 111.194.

The final piece of the mill levy puzzle -- the Lawrence school district's 1999 budget -- is in, bringing the total to 98.682 mills.

That's down from 111.194 mills last year, 116.948 mills in 1996 and 119.980 mills in 1995, which means taxpayers will be getting a slight break.

A mill is $1 of property tax for every $1,000 of assessed valuation. Last year, the owner of a house within the city limits valued at $100,000 paid $1,278.31 in taxes. This year, the owner of that same house -- taking a 5 percent increase in valuation into account -- will pay $1,191.58.

Although valuations are up, taxes still have decreased because of mill levy cuts for the school district and city. The county's mill levy increased about 1.4 mills from last year because of a capital improvements plan the commission approved.

Craig Fiegel, assistant superintendent of administrative services, said taxpayers should be encouraged by the decreases.

``I think they ought to see this as a positive move,'' he said. ``In Douglas County, they're going to see their property taxes reduced.''

The school district's mill levy for the 1999 budget is 48.55. The county's is 26.075, the city's is 22.557, and the state's is 1.5.

Last year, the school's mill levy was 62.357, the county's 24.663, the city's 22.674 and the state's 1.5.

The school district's cut comes in part from the state reducing its general fund mill levy from 27 to 20 mills. In addition, the school board cut its local option from 21 to 14.8 mills. The increase in assessed valuation also caused a slight decrease in the overall mill levy, Fiegel pointed out.

The district's budget marks the third consecutive year the mill levy has decreased.

County administrator Craig Weinaug's recommended budget initially translated into a roughly 2.5-mill increase for the county, but commissioners trimmed $430,000 out of the budgets for various departments and nonprofit groups it supports and $196,000 out of the capital improvements plan. Although commissioners made cuts to Weinaug's proposed budget, no department or agency's budget actually was reduced from last year. Some budget increases simply weren't funded at the level that had been requested and recommended. For example, instead of receiving a 6 percent budget increase from the county, Cottonwood Inc. got a 3 percent increase.

-- Deb Gruver's phone message number is 832-7165. Her e-mail address is dgruver@ljworld.com.

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