For now, Leavenworth County commissioners are proposing a flat mill levy for property taxes for 2018. But they still could lower the tax levy before voting to approve the budget later this month.

For now, Leavenworth County commissioners are proposing a flat mill levy for property taxes for 2018. But they still could lower the tax levy before voting to approve the budget later this month.

A notice of a public hearing on the proposed budget for the county government was published in the newspaper Tuesday. The public hearing is scheduled for 9:15 a.m. Aug. 17 at the Leavenworth County Courthouse, 300 Walnut St.

The notice includes information about the proposed budget. The notice shows the mill levy remaining unchanged for next year at 37.608 mills. The mill levy is used in determining property taxes.

Commission Chairman Doug Smith said he still hopes to reduce the mill levy during the public hearing.

“I’m definitely for lowering it,” he said.

Smith said the notification was published with the mill levy remaining flat because the commission had been in a time crunch.

Commissioners reached a consensus to move forward with the publication Thursday.

County Clerk Janet Klasinski said Commissioner Bob Holland was absent last week. And the remaining two commissioners did not want to make decisions about cuts while Holland was not present.

Now that the proposed mill levy has been published, commissioners cannot increase it but they can lower it, according to Klasinski.

Last year, the County Commission increased the mill levy by 0.5 mills for 2017. At that time, members of the commission argued the tax levy was being increased to pay for a roof replacement at the Justice Center, and it was suggested the 0.5-mill increase would go away after one year.

Smith was not on the commission at the time the 2017 budget was approved. But Smith said he has brought up the issue several times.

Smith said many people also have seen the appraised values of their homes go up, which means they will be asked to pay more in property taxes even if the mill levy stays flat.

County Administrator Mark Loughry has said the county government can lower its mill levy by 0.5 mills if funding for outside agencies remains unchanged from current levels.

The county traditionally provides financial support to a number of not-for-profit agencies in the county. Some of these agencies have requested additional funding for next year.

If all of the requested increases for outside agencies are funded, the county still could reduce the mill levy by about 0.25 mills, according to Loughry.

Klasinski said there would be an advantage to keeping the mill levy flat for 2018. She said this would serve as the county’s base for property taxes for the following year.

State law now places restrictions on cities and counties when it comes to collecting increased property tax revenue that exceeds the rate of inflation. The law includes a number of exemptions and local governments also can increase tax revenue with voter approval.

“So I would like to see it be flat,” Klasinski said, “but it’s not up to me.”

The county charges a separate mill levy to people who own property in unincorporated areas of the county for a local service road and bridge fund. At this point, commissioners also are proposing to keep this mill levy flat at 8.462 mills.

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