Archive for Thursday, July 17, 2008

County approves of 2.92 mill increase

July 17, 2008


After some last-minute finagling, Douglas County commissioners Wednesday night unanimously agreed to a 2.92 mill levy increase to support its 2009 budget.

That would allow for expenditures of more than $43.07 million, which despite the mill increase is slightly below expenditures of $43.25 million budgeted for 2008. The increase also is not enough to prevent budget cuts to county departments and agencies ranging from 1.5 percent to 20 percent.

The mill increase was necessitated by cost increases in health insurance and fuel and oil, as well as cuts in county funding received from the state and federal governments. Other factors included flat property values. An increase of more than 5 mills would have been necessary to keep services at the same level as 2008.

A mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 in assessed valuation.

During last-minute discussions, Commissioner Jere McElhaney argued for reducing funding to the Lawrence-Douglas County economic development reserve fund while being critical of the Chamber of Commerce leadership during the past year. Commissioner Bob Johnson disagreed with the cuts, saying he thought it was important to plan for development, but he also said he would go along with it.

Earlier in the week, commissioners were looking at putting $540,000 in the economic development fund. That was reduced to $300,000. Commissioners also cut $200,000 from a reserve health insurance fund.

McElhaney wanted to reallocate some of the funds cut from economic development to the Douglas County Extension Service. But Commissioner Charles Jones and Johnson balked, saying that would open a "Pandora's box" leading to a reassessment of other county-funded agencies.

Formal approval of the budget won't come until mid-August.

In other business, at Jones' recommendation, commissioners said the Douglas County District Court could go ahead and search for a new judge pro-tem. The state normally pays for judges but has never agreed to allocate funding for the Douglas County position. The county stepped in several years ago to fund the pro-tem position because of increasing caseloads. The position became vacant earlier this year.

Jones, however, said the court should include the judicial nominating committee in the process of selecting a judge pro-tem. Johnson and McElhaney agreed.


oldvet 9 years, 8 months ago

This is peanuts to the income tax increase you will see in 2009 if Hosanabama and the disciples take power...

gr 9 years, 8 months ago

Haven't you guys heard? Housing valuations didn't increase as much so they didn't get as much of a tax increase. Therefore, the only way is to raise the mills. If the valuations went up, you'd pay more, but since they didn't, they raise the mills so you pay more. You don't expect them to cut spending do you? Why we wouldn't have as much "services" and you don't want to have "services" cut, do you? And besides, it's not their money, so why reduce spending?When times are good and they get plenty of taxes, they start new programs. Then when times aren't so good, they don't stop those programs but increase taxes to keep them up. When things get better, guess what new programs will be started....

Chris Ogle 9 years, 8 months ago

Sorry DonQuipunch, I am not yet an apartment dweller. Last yr I paid over 20K in Real-Estate taxes, and had two commercial building vacant for over a year. I contacted our commissioners over 25 times during the budget process, including letters, e-mails, and phone calls with "NO MORE TAXES" I truly believe that they did the best they could. After being on a local School Board for 8 yrs, I have some empathy for the decisions that have to be made. Oh by the way,please don't forget to vote.

grimpeur 9 years, 8 months ago

You are taxed based on assessed, not appraised, value. You do not pay $11,500 in annual taxes on a house whose appraised value is $100,000. You pay around $1,332 this year, and about $1,366 next year. That's an increase of $3/month.From the appraiser's website: * Looking at your notice of value, find the "appraised value" of your property. Multiply the appraised value by the "assessment percentage" for your property _ (appraised value) times _% (assessment percentage) = assessed value (assesment percentage = 11.5% for residential in Dg. Co.) * Multiply the assessed value by your "mill levy" and then divide by 1,000 to estimate the property tax you owe. _ (assessed value) times _ (mill levy) divided by 1,000 = taxbillAccording to the treasurer's website, they also subtract $46 dollars as a credit on the first $20,000 of assessment on the general portion of the school mill levy. So if your assessment is less, your credit will be slightly less.The current mill levy is 115.675, so this increases it by 2.52%Math check, anyone?

kansasbrandon 9 years, 8 months ago

So property values go down and property taxes go up...

Chris Ogle 9 years, 8 months ago

Commissioners:Thank you for all the hard work and difficult decisions made on the County Budget. As you know I was vocal about "no more taxes". However, I accept your decision. It is much easier for me (Joe citizen) to play "arm chair quarterback" than to actually decide on all the funding issues that are important to our county. Again, thank you for keeping our taxes down as much as possible. Respectfully,

SettingTheRecordStraight 9 years, 8 months ago

I'll be voting for the County Commission candidate that promises to deliver on budget (and mill levy) reductions.

bmwjhawk 9 years, 8 months ago

"The increase of $3 on every $1,000 of property value, means, if you own property valued at $100,000, your taxes just rose $300!"Wrong. Assessed value is 11.5% of the market value of a home. A $100,000 home is assessed at $11,500.Recalculate and post your anger again, please.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 8 months ago

"Other factors included flat property values." How does non stop construction of new homes in a flooded residential market help flat property values? The more they build the more our taxes will increase.

David Roberts 9 years, 8 months ago

This is just the beginning of a long cycle that you could see as early as the 1950's. First, we hit Hubbard's Peak (the point at which the production of a consumable non-renewable resource begins to drop) in the 1970's in the US. Fortunately, we had discovered reserves in the Middle East, which postponed the pain for a few decades. Now, Saudi Arabia is hitting Hubbard's Peak and the oil companies are excited about the possibilities of shale oil production. That won't last long with China, India, and the rest of the world asking for more oil. Be prepared for $5 gas in 2009, $7 gas in 2010, $10 gas in $2011, etc. ad. infinitum.After oil, the prices of all commodities increase. Our economy has relied so much on cheap oil to transport goods, that any increase in the cost of oil will eventually hit the Walmarts and the Dillons of the world as well.After commodities, the prices of services will increase. We see here the increased cost of running a county. Hence, the tax increase.Of course, not only will prices increase, but the money available to support wage increases will decrease. This has been happening since we hit Hubbard's Peak in the US. Real wages (wages over time-adjusted for inflation) rose for every decade from 1830 to 1970, but have fallen since 1970. The result is that my generation (I'm 38) is expected to be the first to have a lower standard of living than our parents and grandparents (don't be fooled by the way we've propped up our standard of living by building a record level of personal debt while saving virtually nothing). Interestingly, such a reduction in real wages has come at a time when productivity has risen substantially.All this said, we are at the beginning of a long and exponentially increasing decline. It's time to immunize ourselves from it all by planting victory gardens again, riding our bikes, investing in wind and solar energies, decreasing the amount of stuff we consume, and getting used to making do with less.It may look bad, but it's really an opportunity to change for the better.

ECM 9 years, 8 months ago

This renews my curiosity in how city employees house's are appraised. I live next to a city worker whose house is valued significantly lower than mine. However, theirs sits on a lot that is 30-40% larger than mine and the house is 25-35% larger as well. Yet every year their house is "valued' 40-50 thousand less. Strange.

igby 9 years, 8 months ago

A $200,000 homes taxes was just raised $600.00 per year. Multiply this times the number of homes in Lawrence, and its a staggering tax increase. So staggering that many businesses will buckle under its weight with also the threat of a new city sales tax in the coming months. The county needs some tough commissioners to really clean house and not pander to these social service agencies and just de-fund most all of them now.

igby 9 years, 8 months ago

as: I thought I was the only person who had heard of "hubbard's peak before. Lawrence has surely hit "Hubbard's peak", just follow the "chicken tracks", lol, and know that Micro is Macro. Macro will soon follow Micro."Hubbard's troff" is very difficult to rise out of and could take a centrury or more. If there was a substitute for crude oil that did not involve moving resources out of agriculture it would still take half a century to balance the world economy to the 1968, model index.

yankeelady 9 years, 8 months ago

According to KPR this morning it will get worse because of a change in the way the state taxes personal property for business. I don't begin to understand it, I just know we can't keep going like this. And thanks grimpeur---your explanation made a lot more sense, and helped keep me from total panic, for now anyway.

MattressMan 9 years, 8 months ago

ECM (Anonymous) says: This renews my curiosity in how city employees house's are appraised. I live next to a city worker whose house is valued significantly lower than mine. However, theirs sits on a lot that is 30-40% larger than mine and the house is 25-35% larger as well. Yet every year their house is "valued' 40-50 thousand less. Strange.Well ECM you better take that up with the county appraiser as they are the one's that set valuations for property in Douglas County, the City has nothing to do with it.

ronwell_dobbs 9 years, 8 months ago

grimpeur - thanks for bringing some rationality back to the discussion. Apparently we're a county of whiners (non-apologies to Phil Gramm)ronwell

Godot 9 years, 8 months ago

Monkeyhawk, the "flat" values reflect the appraisals that were established in March, based on 2007 values. Next year we should expect to see a 10 to 20 percent decrease in appraised values. Get ready for a whopping increase in the mill levy in 2010.

skinny 9 years, 8 months ago

We're in a recession and county commissioners just screwed us again. Guess the city is next with a 12% increase in our water bills.We'll remember that at election time!

jumpin_catfish 9 years, 8 months ago

We the people are in charge of this BS and those who make these decisions or are we?

dumas 9 years, 8 months ago

Whew! I'm glad Mangino got that contract extension and salary bump! Otherwise he couldn't afford to live in Lawrence.

monkeyhawk 9 years, 8 months ago

I guess the moral of asimpleman's story is that you should not expect mom and dad to provide for you when they are gone. They will be spending your inheritance to survive. I wonder how Dg. Co. is such a magical kingdom that property values have managed to remain "flat"? Seems that most values across the country have plummeted.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 8 months ago

Bailout for Mortgage Giants, IndyMac Bank Collapse, Dollar Hits New Low, Inflation at 26-Year High, Dow Falls Below 11K...A Look at the Financial CrisisIt has been a tough seven days for the U.S. economy. On Friday, the FDIC seized control of the failed California-based IndyMac Bank. It was second largest bank failure in U.S. history. Analysts project another 150 banks could collapse. On Sunday, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson announced extraordinary moves to bail out the mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. On Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped below 11,000 for the first time since 2006 and the dollar hit a record low against the Euro. And Wednesday it was announced that inflation is now rising at its fastest pace in 26 years. We take an in-depth look an the economic crisis.

number1jayhawker 9 years, 8 months ago

Thanks BMW for reminding me of that formula. Logrithmic's figures had my blood pressure on the rise.

grimpeur 9 years, 8 months ago

igby, you're wrong there, and it's not close. Check the appraiser's site or do the math according to my previous post!A home worth $200K has 2007 taxes of about $2630.00. Next year it will be about $2807.00, an increase of seventy-seven dollars.That's $77, not $300.C'mon, people! Do you patch the chip/seal county roads yourselves, pick up your vehicle tags in Topeka, grade your own county and township gravel roads, replace the bridges, provide your own fire and sheriff protection, mow the right of way, and so forth? No! You don't. You pay to have these things done for you. Sheesh.

TopJayhawk 9 years, 8 months ago

Hey guy , I think that word has two t's. But hey you might know that if Lawrence had more money for it's schools. LOL. I have a good solution......Move.

gr 9 years, 8 months ago

"C'mon, people! Do you patch the chip/seal county roads yourselves, pick up your vehicle tags in Topeka, grade your own county and township gravel roads, replace the bridges, provide your own fire and sheriff protection, mow the right of way, and so forth? No! You don't. You pay to have these things done for you. Sheesh."grimpeur, while you are right about the calculations, you are wrong about why taxes need to be raised. Don't think we're stupid if that's the only thing taxes are going to be used for. There is all kinds of wanton waste. When the school budget was going up people said there was no waste, but no one could list detailed expenditures. Could there be a reason? Likewise, there is waste of county spending. Sure, a minority think it isn't a waste because they are benefiting from everyone else subsidizing "services" for them. While I'd bet there is waste in the services you mentioned, lets just agree those services are the things taxes are supposed to be for. What about the remainder? Maybe someone wants a new set of computers, or a flat screen, or a new or remodeled office, art, etc. etc.Let's see a list and I bet we can find lots of things that are "wants" or "waste" and not "needs".

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