It’s summer in Kansas; it’s hot; and it’s budget time for area cities, schools and counties.
While you might not yet be thinking about your property tax bill; officials are.
It you don’t want “sticker shock” when the county appraiser’s tax bill arrives –or the escrow increases from your mortgage lender – it would be wise to pay attention.
You have to read between the lines.
Headlines everywhere will say “mill levy decreases,” but rarely will you see taxing authorities trumpeting the additional revenue they will receive from increased valuation.
Valuation reflects the total assessed value of property; your home, building, or the apartment you live in. As the value increases – as determined by the county appraiser – so does the amount of tax you pay. (Or it may be passed thru on your lease or rent payment.)
While rolling the mill back reduces the tax increase, it rarely keeps the total tax amount level with the prior year. And because each entity taxes separately – city, school, county, library, fire district – the total increase can be staggering when seen together.
In Gardner, the city’s assessed valuation increased 8.2 percent; as compared to about 7 percent the prior year. Even by rolling the mill back from 29.455 to 20.544 the city’s assessed valuation grew from $145,932,000 to $158,089,000.
According to the Gardner’s proposed budget, expenses will increase from about $48,735,486 to $62,296,000.
And that’s just Gardner.
There are plenty of ways to make your voice heard. Stay informed. Pay attention to independent news sources as well as government-paid web sites and newsletters
But – better yet – check the bottom line on each entities’ published budget. Compare assessed valuation, mill levies, total expenses and grand total.
Is this how you want your tax money spent? Do you agree with this increase?
Attend meetings, write letters or call City Hall, and contact your local, state and federal government officials; an informed people who are involved in the governing of the place in which they live is always a good thing.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s your money they’re spending.
Perhaps the most effective way to make your voice heard, however, is through listening to and addressing governing entities in person. And Gardner residents have the chance to do just that on July 18 when the Gardner City Council holds a public hearing on the city’s 2017 budget.
All entities must publish budgets and have them completed in August.