Archive for Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Baldwin to see lower mill levy next year

July 30, 2003

Baldwin residents can expect to see a lower mill levy next year.

The mill levy is currently set at 36.574 for the 2004 fiscal year, down 1.857 mills from 2003.

"The biggest thing to notice is unlike most cities in Kansas, we are getting a mill decrease," Mayor Ken Hayes said. "We're trying to bring property taxes down to other cities our size."

The mill levy decrease, he said, can be attributed to Baldwin's growth both in commercial and residential properties.

Because Baldwin has seen such a significant growth increase, Hayes said, the city was able to give its employees raises in their salaries and buy equipment for its departments and still lower the mill levy.

Baldwin's budget hearing for the 2004 fiscal year is set for 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Baldwin City Public Library. Copies of the budget are available at Baldwin City Hall. The Baldwin City Council is expected to approve the 2004 budget following the public hearing.

Currently, the city has budgeted a little more than $10.2 million for net expenditures, which is considerably lower than last year's $15.4 million. The decrease, Hayes said, is due in part to the city's capital improvements.

"We're completing all of the improvement projects," he said. "By February or March of next year, we will be done with the improvements."

A combined $14 million was budgeted for capital improvements in 2002 and 2003, but only $500,000 has been budgeted for 2004.

One of the places residents will see an increase is in utilities.

"We're trying to make utilities more self sufficient," he said. "The goal is instead of trying to raise taxes, which just affects property owners, we're trying to get everyone who uses the services to participate in these improvements."

City Clerk Peggy Nichols said Baldwin has been affected by the state's budget problems and will not receive $60,000 in state funding this year. But she said the city was able to absorb the lack of state funding with help from its budgeted contingency fund.

Another thing that's helped, Nichols said, is the city's sales tax.

"A lot of cities are being hit hard with a decrease in sales tax. They're losing revenue there," she said. "But for some reason, we're holding our own."

One of the items that won't be in the 2004 budget as in previous years, Hayes said, is the school resource officer position.

"One thing we're all disappointed in is the elimination of the SRO position," he said. "I think it's a very important program and would have liked to have it. But the school district didn't make it a high priority and we had to follow their lead."

Instead, part of the $53,000 that would have been used for the SRO is now being used for the purchase of police and fire equipment, including a new patrol car and new fire truck.

Nichols encouraged those interested in the city budget to attend the public hearing Monday.

"If you've got any questions, be sure to ask them," she said. "A lot of times, there is misinformation in the community."

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