Gardner approved the FY 2022 budget at their Sept. 7 city council meeting.
The projected mill levy based on current valuation estimates is 20.165, a half mill reduction from last year, said Daneeka Marshall-Oquendo. The exact number is subject to change because the county doesn’t determine final valuations until late October/early November.
The council held two public hearings: one for public input regarding exceeding the revenue neutral rate and one for the proposed 2022 budget. No residents spoke, although a resident’s letter questioning a last minute agenda change was read into the record.
The letter questioned a last minute “housekeeping/technical” budget amendment added prior to the meeting to increase expenditure authority.
“Without more specific information, what basis for comments does the public have to make? Realizing more information will come in just prior to discussion, amending the 2021 budget this evening, really doesn’t allow for much time for the average tax paying citizen to digest the information and make a comment either for or against,” wrote Adrienna Meder, resident.
According to the agenda, the last minute change was necessary to avoid a potential budget violation for the FY 2021 budget and was a “housekeeping/technical” budget amendment to increase expenditure authority for the Main Street Market Place Community Improvement District (CID) Fund.
The cause of the amendment is the carryover of CID sales tax that was generated in 2020 and the need to increase budget authority to be able spend the funds, according to the agenda. Per the Main Street Market Place Development Agreement, the funds will be used to reimburse the developer for eligible project costs and the city for administrative costs.
“Personally,” Meder writes, I find this to be another method to fund the city using citizen tax dollars. This is an especially jagged pill to swallow, with the tax credit and other funding hand outs given to developers recently.”
The Budget Authority for Expenditures for the 2022 Adopted Budget is $101,792,647, said Marshall-Ouendo. “ Please note that the approved budget authority includes fund balances that we plan to carry forward into 2023. For example, the Budget Authority for Expenditures in the General Fund is $20,813,357. This number includes $5,218,057 in fund balance that we plan to carry forward into 2023. We do not intend to spend this $5.2M, but we still get formal budget authority just in case we need to dip into our reserves. ”
The 2022 budget includes 6.5 new full-time employee positions; a general fund balance of 37 percent; and water rate increase of 3.7 percent.
The revenue neutral public hearing is a result of Senate Bill 13 which established new notification and public hearing requirements if the proposed budget will exceed the revenue neutral property tax rate. The revenue neutral rate is the mill levy required to raise the same amount of property tax as the prior year using current year assessed valuation amounts. The Johnson County Clerk calculated Gardner’s revenue neutral
rate for FY 2022 as 19.278. The city’s proposed FY 2022 budget is based on a proposed mill rate of 20.165, which exceeds the revenue neutral rate.

Gardner budget
2011 $ 55,754,632 31.11
2017 $ 64,454,864 29.45*
2021 $131,976,014 20

2000 Population = 9,400
2010 Population – 19,100
2015 Population = 20,868
2020 Population = 23,287

(Gardner residents’ fire protection)
2016 9 mills (Gardner Department of Public Safety)
2021 17 mills (JCFD#1)

*Gardner’s mill levy dropped from 31 in 2011 to the current 20, which is primarily due to the fire protection spin off of Johnson County Fire District #1 in 2016/2017. At that time, Gardner residents were taxed about 9 mills for fire protection; according to JCFD#1’s website, their mill levy is currently 17.314, which exceeds the county’s revenue neutral rate by about 5 mills.
In July 2016 Laura Gourley, then Gardner finance director, gave a presentation on the 2017 budget and said the fire service portion of the (former) Gardner Department of Public Safety had been absorbed by Fire District #1. That caused the city’s 2017 mill levy to decrease from 29.455 to 20.544 as JCFD#1 became responsible for fire protection.
The 2016 Gardner official/amended/final budget was $64,369,960 and final certified mill levy was 29.455. The 2011 official/final budget was $55,754,632 and the final, certified mill levy was 31.119. The 2021/22 budget was $131,976,014, mill levy 20.
In 2021/22 the mill levy was 20 and the budget had doubled.