Archive for Sunday, November 7, 2010

Most Douglas County tax bills show increases

Mill levy varies by city, township, school district

November 7, 2010


In the world of Douglas County taxes, this is the year that subtleness took a backseat to shortfalls.

As the Douglas County Treasurer prepares to send out property tax bills later this month, the Journal-World’s annual analysis of property tax rates found that governments across the county weren’t shy in seeking higher tax rates.

Case in point: When the Journal-World looked at property tax rates in 2009, only three governments had raised them by 1 mill or more. This year that figure grew to six.

Nowhere did tax rates grow more than in Baldwin City. The Baldwin City school district, for the second year in a row, had the highest mill levy of any government in Douglas County — 75.141 mills. It also had the largest mill increase of any taxing body in the county. A mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 in assessed valuation.

It is not a distinction Superintendent Paul Dorathy relishes, but he said voters approved a $22.9 million bond issue that raised the tax rate last year, and the mill levy had to be raised this year to help pay for that debt and also to account for other changes in the district’s property tax base.

“I think there are people who are very concerned about how high the taxes are in the community right now,” Dorathy said. “That’s an understatement really. The taxes are pretty significant right now. We would love to have more building, growth and businesses to help spread those taxes out.”

Before we go on, a quick note about property taxes: The property tax mill levy is only half the equation to your property tax bill. The other half is the value of your home or business. Homes are taxed at 11.5 percent of their fair market value. Businesses are taxed at 25 percent of their fair market value.

Real estate values generally held steady or declined slightly for most property owners, meaning that higher mill levies may not sting as much as they would during times of rising property values. Of course, paychecks may not be rising much for some homeowners, either.

Anyway, now that we have that out of the way, here’s a look at other findings from this year’s tax rates.

Largest increases

Douglas County governments with the largest mill increases to their tax rates in 2010 are:

  1. USD 348 Baldwin School District: 4.483 mills
  2. USD 491 Eudora School District: 3.258 mills
  3. Douglas County: 2.945 mills
  4. City of Eudora: 2.1 mills
  5. Baldwin City: 1.878 mills

Largest declines

It took a little larger microscope to spot the local governments that decreased their mill levies in 2010. They are:

  1. USD 343 Perry-Lecompton School District: down 0.406 mill
  2. Eudora Township: down 0.349 mill
  3. Lecompton Township: down 0.123 mill
  4. Willow Springs Township: down 0.067 mill
  5. Marion Township: down 0.013 mill

City living

When you live in the city, you pay property taxes to at least four different entities: the state, the county, the school district and the city. We’ve added up all those totals and compared them to last year. The results are:

  1. Baldwin City: 146.205 mills, up 9.306 mills
  2. Eudora: 141.312 mills, up 8.287 mills

3. Lawrence: 123.591 mills, up 4.701 mills

  1. Lecompton: 118.113 mills, up 2.747 mills.

Country living

Figuring a combined property tax rate in a township is more difficult because many townships are part of two or more school districts, meaning the overall tax rate in one part of the township is different than in another part. The results also can be surprising — note that six townships have a higher combined mill levy than residents living inside the city of Lawrence. The results are:

  1. Marion Township in Baldwin School District: 136.544 mills
  2. Eudora Township in Baldwin School District: 133.199 mills
  3. Eudora Township in Eudora School District: 129.779 mills
  4. Willow Springs Township in Baldwin School District: 129.271 mills
  5. Wakarusa Township in Baldwin School District: 129.094 mills
  6. Palmyra Township in Baldwin School District: 125.339 mills

Location, location, location

Sometimes taxes in a township can vary widely based on where you live. In the small section of Marion Township that is part of the West Franklin School District, the tax rate for a homeowner is 24.67 mills less than it is for a Marion Township homeowner that is just across the road in the Baldwin School District. On a $200,000 home, that amounts to about $565 a year in taxes.

The rundown

Here’s the complete list of the 23 different areas that we looked. A word of caution: Use these numbers only as estimates. Some areas have special taxes such as cemetery districts, library levies, drainage districts, fire protection districts and others. The following is a list of the tax rates for the city/township, county, state and school district. From lowest to highest, they are:

  1. Clinton Township in Shawnee Heights School District: 101.599 mills
  2. Wakarusa Township in Lecompton School District: 107.321 mills
  3. Clinton Township in Lawrence School District: 109.125
  4. Kanwaka Township in Shawnee Heights School District: 109.485 mills
  5. Lecompton Township in Shawnee Heights School District: 109.649 mills
  6. Kanwaka Township in Perry-Lecompton School District: 110.733 mills
  7. Lecompton Township in Perry-Lecompton School District: 110.897 mills
  8. Grant Township in Lawrence School District: 111.211 mills
  9. Marion Township in West Franklin School District: 111.874 mills
  10. Wakarusa Township in Lawrence School District: 113.599 mills
  11. Palmyra Township in Wellsville School District: 112.514 mills
  12. Marion Township in Santa Fe Trail School District: 116.475 mills
  13. Kanwaka Township in Lawrence School District: 117.011 mills
  14. City of Lecompton: 118.113 mills

15. City of Lawrence: 123.591 mills

  1. Palmyra Township in Baldwin School District: 15.339 mills
  2. Wakarusa Township in Baldwin School District: 129.094 mills
  3. Willow Springs Township in Baldwin School District: 129.271 mills
  4. Eudora Township in Eudora School District: 129.779 mills
  5. Eudora Township in Baldwin School District: 133.199 mills
  6. Marion Township in Baldwin School District: 136.544 mills
  7. City of Eudora: 141.312 mills
  8. City of Baldwin: 146.205 mills


kansasredlegs 6 years ago

If you live in Lawrence and VOTED FOR the library expansion, Gaughan and Thellman last election, not one post about taxes being to high. You had your chance for lower taxes, so now sit back and pay, if of course you own any real estate.

oldvet 6 years ago

It won't only be the owners who are paying more... rents will also see an increase with the next lease renewals, as landlords won't eat the tax increase.

steveguy 6 years ago

I'm glad I don't live in Lawrence.

Yawnmower 6 years ago

Why does the clock show different times on each face ?

jackson5 6 years ago

The school district can retire some debt within the next year and our mill levy would go down. But the district is hoping to issue new debt and keep the mills up.

One third of the local school property taxes go to debt payments, interest and capital expenditures (nearly 20 mills). We could reduce school property taxes significantly if we could hold the line at new debt for a few years.

We know the school board pays attention to business property taxes - they agreed that the Oread Inn owners wouldn't have to pay local school taxes for 20 years on the new value of the property. It is time to give local families a break, too.

kernal 6 years ago

Twenty years? Reaaally. Was not aware the Tower of the Damned also got that little chunk of tender meaty pork.

Sunny Parker 6 years ago

We're screwed...but least you'll have a new library.

I am moving out of Lawrence as soon as it is possible.

Moderateguy 6 years ago

Thank you for this in-depth study. Saved me a lot of time as I was about to embark on this exercise myself. I would love to see this as well for our immediately surrounding counties. Glad to see Shawnee Heights school district is reasonably priced. It is a great school district.,

Good luck with the next great idea of how to spend "other peoples" money Lawrence. I have no doubt it will be approved.

kernal 6 years ago

I really hope all of you who voted for this library expansion can bear the financial repercussions because there is always a trickle down effect.

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