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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Quick 5 questions for Dan Williamson

  • Dan Williamson is the finance director for the city of Leavenworth.
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  • Dan Williamson is the finance director for the city of Leavenworth.
    1. The proposed 2014 budget for the city of Leavenworth has been published in the newspaper. What happens next?
    There will be a public hearing on the 2014 budget Aug. 13 at 7 p.m. at the City Hall. At that time, the public will have an opportunity to ask questions and express their thoughts on the budget. After the public hearing, the City Commission will vote on the budget.
    2. How does the proposed 2014 budget compare to the 2013 budget?
    You may recall that the overall city budget, as originally presented to the commissioners, included a $110,220, or 0.3 percent, increase over the 2013 budget and required a 1.73 mill levy increase. The Commission met in a series of meetings in mid-July to review the budget and, as a result of their deliberations, staff was directed to reduce spending by about $325,000 so that a property tax increase would not be necessary.
    The budget that will be considered at the public hearing on Aug. 13 actually reduces overall city spending by about $223,000 from 2013 levels and requires no tax increase.
    3. During budget discussions for the city, the mill levy frequently is mentioned. Please explain what the mill levy is.
    The mill levy is the "tax rate" that is applied to the assessed value of your property or home. One mill is $1 per $1,000 of assessed value. The mill levy determines how much property taxes you will pay.
    To understand how it is used, assume that your home is worth $150,000 according to the county appraiser. This is the appraised value of the home. State law sets the assessed value of the home at 11.5 percent of the appraised value. In our example, the assessed value of your home is $150,000 x .115, or $17,250. To determine how much city property taxes you pay, divide the $17,250 assessed value by $1,000 to get 17.250. Now multiply 17.250 by the city's mill levy rate of about 52 mills and you get about $897. That's your city tax bill for the year.
    4. These continue to be tough economic times for the city. How has that impacted the proposed 2014 budget?
    The 2014 budget was plagued by the same economic trends that have existed for about five years . . . very little revenue growth combined with declines in the city's overall assessed valuation. At the same time, some increases in expenses cannot be avoided, such as costs for state employee pensions, health insurance premiums and electricity. To compensate for these negative trends, from 2011 through the 2014 budget, the city has reduced spending nearly $1.8 million primarily through staff realignments and eliminating positions.
    It is important to note that throughout these difficult times, the city has not increased its property tax rate. In fact, the city has not raised its tax rate in 11 consecutive years.
    Page 2 of 2 - 5. How can members of the public provide input about the proposed budget?
    As mentioned earlier, there will be a public hearing on the 2014 budget on Aug.13 at 7 p.m. at City Hall. And as always, citizens can contact the city commissioners at any time to discuss issues of concern to them. Visit the city's website at lvks.org for contact information.
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