Courtesy of

Gardner staff has begun working on budgets for next year. Although COVID 19 has made it difficult, revenues appear to be stable with property valuations up, sales tax stable/increase and the mill levy projected to remain the same as last year. At the same time, expenses have also increased.

Mill Levy
Gardner is projecting a stable mill levy of 20.710 this year, and the city’s total valuation has increased. The county annually appraises property, and individual property bills may increase unless the mill levy is rolled back.
Gardner’s assessed value in 2019 was $200,475,760 and has increased to $230,258,080, according to Matt Wolff, Gardner finance director. This equates to additional revenue of $389,300 across all funds.
The proposed mill levy of 20.710 may change based on final valuations from Johnson County, Wolff said. In 2019, the city adjusted the levy down (-0.010) from 20.720.
Based on a $200,000 home, residents will pay approximately $476.33 for Gardner the entire year, Wolff said.

Gross payroll increases
Total gross payroll for the city was $10,242,842.44 in 2019. As of July 2, 2020, gross payroll is $5,392,855.22. Insurance premiums were based on $10,095,400 payroll last year and $10,389,600 for 2020-2021.
Gardner city’s payroll has increased about $45,000 per month. It averaged about $853,570 per month in 2019 and about $898,809 for 2020.
According to Wolff, employees did not receive a cost of living increase in 2019, 2020 or 2021.
Merit expenses quadruple over years
Merit pay expense has quadrupled from $60,000 in 2013 to $242,000 in 2020.
Employee merit increases increased about $10,000. In 2019 $232,789 was budgeted and in 2020 the amount is $242,458, according to Wolff.
In 2013 Gardner budgeted $60,000 in merit increases and $80,000 in 2014. Merit increases are in addition to cost of living adjustments. Traditionally, merit increases are not bonuses; base pay plus merit increase becomes a permanent addition to base salary. The city no longer publishes salary ordinances; however, salary amounts are available to the public upon request.
Gardner’s sales tax collections for 2019 were $2,907,200, and in 2020 are $2,969,532.