Baldwin City and Eudora don’t plan to raise property tax rates for 2023, but tax bills aren’t likely to shrink
The governing bodies in Baldwin City and Eudora plan to either slightly decrease their property tax rates for 2023 or hold them steady, but residents’ tax bills are still likely to increase because of rising property values.
Both of these Douglas County municipalities have published their 2023 budget proposals, and neither one of them maintains the so-called “revenue-neutral rate” — the tax rate at which they would take in the same amount of money in property taxes as last year. That’s because historic increases in property values have occurred this year across the county, and Eudora and Baldwin City are no exceptions. The Douglas County appraiser’s office found that the median value of homes in Baldwin City increased by 18.1%, and the median value in Eudora rose by 13.2%.
State law requires governments to hold a special public hearing before passing a budget that isn’t revenue neutral, and both Eudora and Baldwin City will hold their public hearings and consider adopting their budgets next month.
In Baldwin City, City Administrator Glenn Rodden said the proposed budget maintains a tax rate of 44.7 mills, the same rate as in 2022 and the four preceding years. That means the owner of a $200,000 home would owe the city $1,028 in taxes.
Utility rates are not addressed in the proposed budget, although the Baldwin City Council will consider increases at a later date, Rodden said. Four mills of the city’s property tax collections would go to support the Baldwin City Public Library.
According to the appraiser’s office, the total value of all property in Baldwin City rose by 11%, Rodden said. However, Baldwin City has a revitalization program, and if people who make improvements to their properties qualify for the program, they don’t have to pay property tax on those improvements. That means that for budget purposes, the increase in the city’s total property values looks more like 5%, which Rodden said is “typical for the city.”
Baldwin City Mayor Casey Simoneau said the City Council originally wanted to reduce the property tax rate, but he now thinks that’s not going to happen. After a number of workshops on the budget with the city’s financial advisers, he said the council realized that the mill levy had to stay flat to help the city cope with inflation.
“We’ve certainly seen our costs go up an extreme amount,” he said. “Based on our health insurance increase and employee costs, I think the council is OK with holding the mill levy flat.”
Meanwhile, in Eudora, the proposed budget would reduce the city’s mill levy from its current 39.5 mills to 39 mills. At that rate, the city would collect $897 in taxes on a $200,000 home.
In a report to commissioners on the 2023 budget earlier this summer, City Manager Barack Matite wrote that the city’s overall property valuation increased by 15%. That means the half-mill reduction is not enough to make the budget revenue neutral.
Eudora Mayor Tim Reazin said he didn’t think the commission would want to lower the property tax rate further. Like Simoneau, he said the city was having to pay more for things like health insurance and employee wages. In addition, he said the city is trying to catch up on infrastructure improvements, and that it may need to pay for more improvements when Panasonic builds its multibillion-dollar battery plant at the old Sunflower Army Ammunition site in neighboring De Soto.
Matite said the 2023 budget would not increase city electrical rates, but it does propose a 1.5% increase to water rates and a 7% increase in sewer rates.
The Baldwin City Council’s budget hearing will be Tuesday, Sept. 6, and the Eudora City Commission’s budget hearing will be Monday, Sept. 12.