Leavenworth County commissioners discussed Wednesday whether they wanted to reduce the county’s mill levy for 2020.

Leavenworth County commissioners discussed Wednesday whether they wanted to reduce the county’s mill levy for 2020.

While no formal vote was taken, a majority of commissioners reached a consensus to keep the mill levy flat for next year.

The mill levy is used in determining property taxes.

Commissioners have been presented with a proposed budget for 2020 that would keep the mill levy flat at 37.112 mills.

Commissioners have reviewed this proposed budget over the course of several meetings during the last week.

They discussed the budget again Wednesday during a work session that followed their regular weekly meeting.

During the work session, commissioners were asked if there was a consensus regarding what they wanted to do with the mill levy.

Commissioner Vicky Kaaz had to leave the meeting early. But before leaving, Kaaz said she wants to keep the mill levy flat.

Commissioner Chad Schimke indicated he also is in favor a flat mill levy.

Schimke said he does not believe the county can fix what needs to be solved with a flat mill levy, but he does not want to go above the current levy.

Commission Chairman Doug Smith said he would like to reduce the mill levy by 0.25 mills.

One-quarter of a mill reduction would equate to a cut of $181,302 in the budget.

Commissioner Mike Stieben said he also is in favor of reducing the mill levy by 0.25 mills.

The remaining commissioner, Jeff Culbertson, was asked what he wanted to do.

“I don’t know yet,” he said.

However, when later asked by County Clerk Janet Klasinski, Culbertson said he supported a flat mill levy.

Stieben argued that out of the last 10 years, this is the most appropriate year for a mill levy reduction because property owners have been hit by increases in the valuation of their properties.

The county is subject to a state property tax lid law that places restrictions on the collection of increased property tax revenue that exceeds the rate of inflation. But some areas of the county budget are exempt from these restrictions.

Reducing the mill levy for 2020 would create a new base level for the mill levy under the tax lid law.

Schimke asked commissioners to think about how the reduction may impact the county government in the future.

Commissioners will approve the budget next month. At that time, commissioners will approve total budgeted expenditures for 2020. But the mill levy still could change a little.

Klasinski said the final valuation numbers for the county will not be available until October. She said it is possible the numbers could drop because of damage to properties that resulted from a May 28 tornado.

“The levy will also fluctuate,” she said.

Commissioners also reached a consensus Wednesday to make an adjustment to the proposed 2020 budget by reducing an amount that had been budgeted for the Leavenworth County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Andy Dedeke had requested funding for an 8% increase in pay for some positions and a 4% increase for all other positions in the Sheriff’s Office.

Dedeke said he requested the 8% for difficult to retain positions of sworn officers, detention officers and dispatchers.

Commissioners decided Wednesday to change the proposed budget to provide only a 6% increase for sworn officers, detention officers and dispatchers. Other employees in the Sheriff’s Office will still receive a 4% increase.

Making the change freed up nearly $100,000 within the proposed budget. Commissioners decided to use this money to provide increases in funding for the First Judicial District CASA Association, which provides advocacy for children involved in the court system, and The Guidance Center, which provides mental health services.

The County Commission provides funding to these two agencies each year as well as other organizations in the county.

Commissioners agreed to give CASA an additional $10,475 in funding next year. And The Guidance Center will receive an increase in funding of more than $89,000.

Commissioners plan to have another budget meeting Tuesday.

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