Archive for Sunday, November 7, 2010

Most Douglas County tax bills show increase

November 7, 2010

In the world of Douglas County taxes, this is the year that subtleness took a backseat to shortfalls.

As the Douglas County treasurer prepares to send out property tax bills later this month, the Lawrence Journal-World’s annual analysis of property tax rates found that governments across the county weren’t shy in seeking higher tax rates.

Case in point: When the Journal-World looked at property tax rates in 2009, only three governments had raised them by 1 mill or more. This year that figure grew to six.

Nowhere did tax rates grow more than in Baldwin City. The Baldwin City school district, for the second year in a row, had the highest mill levy of any government in Douglas County — 75.141 mills. It also had the largest mill increase of any taxing body in the county. A mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 in assessed valuation.

It is not a distinction Superintendent Paul Dorathy relishes, but he said voters approved a $22.9 million bond issue that raised the tax rate last year, and the mill levy had to be raised this year to help pay for that debt and also to account for other changes in the district’s property tax base.

“I think there are people who are very concerned about how high the taxes are in the community right now,” Dorathy said. “That’s an understatement really. The taxes are pretty significant right now. We would love to have more building, growth and businesses to help spread those taxes out.”

Before we go on, a quick note about property taxes: The property tax mill levy is only half the equation to your property tax bill. The other half is the value of your home or business. Homes are taxed at 11.5 percent of their fair market value. Businesses are taxed at 25 percent of their fair market value.

Real estate values generally held steady or declined slightly for most property owners, meaning that higher mill levies may not sting as much as they would during times of rising property values. Of course, paychecks may not be rising much for some homeowners, either.

Anyway, now that we have that out of the way, here’s a look at other findings from this year’s tax rates.

Largest increases

Douglas County governments with the largest mill increases to their tax rates in 2010 are:

USD 348 Baldwin School District: 4.483 mills

USD 491 Eudora School District: 3.258 mills

Douglas County: 2.945 mills

City of Eudora: 2.1 mills

Baldwin City: 1.878 mills

Largest declines

It took a little larger microscope to spot the local governments that decreased their mill levies in 2010. They are:

USD 343 Perry-Lecompton School District: down 0.406 mill

Eudora Township: down 0.349 mill

Lecompton Township: down 0.123 mill

Willow Springs Township: down 0.067 mill

Marion Township: down 0.013 mill

City living

When you live in the city, you pay property taxes to at least four different entities: the state, the county, the school district and the city. We’ve added up all those totals and compared them to last year. The results are:

Baldwin City: 146.205 mills, up 9.306 mills

Eudora: 141.312 mills, up 8.287 mills

Lawrence: 123.591 mills, up 4.701 mills

Lecompton: 118.113 mills, up 2.747 mills.

Country living

Figuring a combined property tax rate in a township is more difficult because many townships are part of two or more school districts, meaning the overall tax rate in one part of the township is different than in another part. The results also can be surprising — note that six townships have a higher combined mill levy than residents living inside the city of Lawrence. The results are:

Marion Township in Baldwin School District: 136.544 mills

Eudora Township in Baldwin School District: 133.199 mills

Eudora Township in Eudora School District: 129.779 mills

Willow Springs Township in Baldwin School District: 129.271 mills

Wakarusa Township in Baldwin School District: 129.094 mills

Palmyra Township in Baldwin School District: 125.339 mills

Location, location, location

Sometimes taxes in a township can vary widely based on where you live. In the small section of Marion Township that is part of the West Franklin School District, the tax rate for a homeowner is 24.67 mills less than it is for a Marion Township homeowner that is just across the road in the Baldwin School District. On a $200,000 home, that amounts to about $565 a year in taxes.

The rundown

Here’s the complete list of the 23 different areas that we looked. A word of caution: Use these numbers only as estimates. Some areas have special taxes such as cemetery districts, library levies, drainage districts, fire protection districts and others. The following is a list of the tax rates for the city/township, county, state and school district. From lowest to highest, they are:

Clinton Township in Shawnee Heights School District: 101.599 mills

Wakarusa Township in Lecompton School District: 107.321 mills

Clinton Township in Lawrence School District: 109.125

Kanwaka Township in Shawnee Heights School District: 109.485 mills

Lecompton Township in Shawnee Heights School District: 109.649 mills

Kanwaka Township in Perry-Lecompton School District: 110.733 mills

Lecompton Township in Perry-Lecompton School District: 110.897 mills

Grant Township in Lawrence School District: 111.211 mills

Marion Township in West Franklin School District: 111.874 mills

Wakarusa Township in Lawrence School District: 113.599 mills

Palmyra Township in Wellsville School District: 112.514 mills

Marion Township in Santa Fe Trail School District: 116.475 mills

Kanwaka Township in Lawrence School District: 117.011 mills

City of Lecompton: 118.113 mills

City of Lawrence: 123.591 mills

Palmyra Township in Baldwin School District: 15.339 mills

Wakarusa Township in Baldwin School District: 129.094 mills

Willow Springs Township in Baldwin School District: 129.271 mills

Eudora Township in Eudora School District: 129.779 mills

Eudora Township in Baldwin School District: 133.199 mills

Marion Township in Baldwin School District: 136.544 mills

City of Eudora: 141.312 mills

City of Baldwin: 146.205 mills

Comments

ksrush 4 years, 1 month ago

" Nowhere did tax rates grow more than in Baldwin City. The Baldwin City school district, for the second year in a row, had the highest mill levy of any government in Douglas County " " It also had the largest mill increase of any taxing body in the county "

I just cant figure out why Baldwin isnt growing. Cant attract new business, cant supply affordable utilities, anti business City Council, Economic Development Cmt is laughable the list could go on. But we can sure throw money away. I never realized we were so rich. I think we should give the school district and City a big thank you for showing the rest of Douglas County how good things really are in Baldwin. Did anyone voting for that bond issue honestly not see this happening ? Goverment at its best - not

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Torch 4 years, 1 month ago

We should change the name of the town from 'Baldwin City' to 'USD 348' since The Di$trict runs everything anyway.

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