In part due to increased industrial growth at the intermodal, Edgerton has been able to decrease taxes while increaseing services. Graph courtesy of city of Edgerton

In part due to increased industrial growth at the intermodal, Edgerton has been able to decrease taxes while increasing services. Graph courtesy of city of Edgerton

Voters approve local option budget for USD 231
By a wide margin, USD 231 voters agreed in February, 2015, to give the school board the authority to increase local option budget taxes (LOB) up to 33 percent of the amount the district receives in state aid.
Unofficial results were available later that day. In a press release, school officials said they were pleased with the election’s outcome. “The board of education and administration greatly appreciate your support in our efforts to continue to provide high-quality education to the children of our communities,” the release reads. “The future leaders of Gardner and Edgerton are the real beneficiaries of your goodwill.”
Officials have said they would not increase school property taxes overall next year. Sixty-percent of those casting a ballot in the USD 231 election, or 2,058 voters, approved the increased taxing authority. Forty-percent, or 1,365 voters, voted against the increased authority. Of 12,669 registered voters in the Gardner Edgerton School District, only 3,425 or 27 percent, returned ballots.

Residents approve maintaining Gardner sales tax
Gardner voters approved a sales tax initiative last Fall. Proceeds from the half-cent sales tax will be used to fund infrastructure improvements to streets and trails. It will sunset in 10 years.
The tax replaces a 10-year tax, which funded the debt on Celebration Park and the Gardner Aquatic Center. It sunsets at the end of 2015. The next tax was formally implemented in January 2016. Gardner.
“The condition of Gardner’s infrastructure, especially our streets and sidewalks, impacts the quality of life of our residents,” said Chris Morrow, mayor. “Better streets, sidewalks, and well maintained infrastructure position the city for a brighter future.”
In the mail-in ballot special election, 62 percent of voters approved the initiative. Of the 9,527 ballots mailed to registered voters, only 2,489, or 26 percent, were returned to the election office to be counted.

$29.7 million school bond approved by voters
A $29.7 million bond initiated in 2015 was approved Feb. 2, 2016. The unofficial ballot results being 1,946 “Yes” votes (58.90 percent) and 1,358 “No” votes (41.10 percent).
A total of 12,607 ballots were mailed out to registered voters in Gardner and Edgerton on Jan. 13. Voters had until noon Feb. 2, to return their ballots. Voter turnout was approximately 26.24 percent, with 3,304 ballots returned.
“I believe the support for the bond issue is a vote of confidence by our parents, community partners and patrons,” said Pam Stranathan, USD 231 superintendent. “The passage of this bond means greater educational opportunities for our students and greater opportunities for their future success.”
The $29.7 million bond issue will fund a new wing addition and renovations to the high school, a stand-alone Advanced Technical Center for enhanced career and technical courses, a TRAILS (Transition Readiness and Independent Living Skills) facility for our 18-21 young adults with disabilities, various capital improvements and technology needs. “The 2016 bond issue represents a turning point for Gardner Edgerton schools, and will help shape our school district academically and provide much needed space for our growing enrollment,” said Stranathan.

County budget includes tax increase; valuations also increase
Last August, a divided Johnson County Board of Commissioners adopted a 2016 budget that includes 7 percent rate increase. The $928 million budget includes a 3.30 mill levy rate increase with more than $743 million in spending and $185 million in reserves.
The rate increase will cost the owner of a $261,000 Johnson County home approximately $8 per month, for a monthly county tax bill of $66.46. The owner of a $150,000 home will pay about $5 more per month, for a monthly tax bill of $38.20. Of that, approximately $2.59 will go to the county’s general fund, $1.08 will go to the parks budget, and another $1.08 will go to the library each month.
In addition to the 7 percent property tax increase, property valuations in Johnson County are also up by approximately percent.
Commissioners approved the 2016 budget in a series of resolutions, with Chair Ed Eilert and commissioners Jim Allen, Steve Klika and Ron Shaeffer voting in support and commissioners Michael Ashcraft, Jason Osterhaus and John Toplikar opposing each measure.

USD 231 adopts budget with small tax decrease
Members of the USD 231 board of education approved a 2015-2016 $266 million budget during a brief August meeting. Though the budget is approximately $12 million more than last year’s budget, the tax rate will likely decrease slightly.
The county appraiser’s office actually determines the exact rate when final property assessments are completed. The rate is based on the district’s budget. Officials estimate the adopted budget will result in a 68.9 mill levy rate, about 1 mill lower than last year’s tax rate of 69.711.
Under the adopted budget, the owner of a $170,000 home in the Gardner Edgerton School District will pay approximately $1,347 in school taxes next year, a savings of about $16 from the year before. Though average property values increased slightly in USD 231 last year,
The market value of the Gardner Edgerton School District increased 11.41 percent, according to a March 2015 memo from Paul Welcome, Johnson County appraiser. As the majority of school revenue is raised by property taxes, district officials use appraised market value of the district to determine USD 231’s annual budget. In his 2015 report to the school board, McFadden said the increased valuation will provide a “favorable opportunity for mill levy relief for USD 231 taxpayers for the 2015-16 district budget.”

Gardner’s budget  increases $5 million
In a special meeting that lasted less than 15 minutes, city council members adopted a 2016 budget on Aug. 10. Council members had previously discussed the budget at a series of work sessions and at a public hearing.
The budget maintains existing utility rates for water, wastewater and electric. The mill levy or property tax rate will likely remain the same as well, though the county appraiser finalizes specific rates based on the adopted budget.
The proposed $17 million budget sets a maximum amount of expenditures. Council members can always spend less, but they cannot spend more than formally adopted.
The $17 million budget was approximately $5 million more than this year’s budget and includes an anticipated bump in revenues due to increased property values and increased sales tax revenues.
One of the largest proposed expenditures in the 2016 budget, $250,000, was a second phase of staffing merit increases. Other expenditures include $120,000 for a infrastructure analysis, $122,000 for four new police SUVs, and $50,000 to make improvements at the Gardner Senior Citizens Building.

Kansas approves sales tax increase
Kansas increased the state sales tax from 6.15 percent to 6.5 percent as of July 1, 2015. Kansas sales tax ranks eighth in the country, ahead of California.

Cigarette tax was increased to $1.29 per pack from 79 cents
Many deductions and carve outs were changed or eliminated for individual income tax, although those who itemize will still be able to deduct 100 percent of charitable deductions and 50 percent of mortgage interest.