Chairman wants to revisit county mill levy

John Richmeier/Leavenworth Times

The chairman of the Leavenworth County Commission says he would like to revisit the county's mill levy for 2022.

The mill levy is used in determining property taxes.

County commissioners have been presented a proposed budget that would keep the mill levy for 2022 the same as this year.

Even with a flat mill levy, a property owner may still see an increase in property taxes if the valuation of a property has increased.

County commissioners have taken no action on the proposed 2022 budget.

At the beginning of a series of budget work sessions last month, Commission Chairman Mike Smith said he would like to reduce the county's mill levy if possible. But he later said he was comfortable leaving the mill levy flat.

At the conclusion of a budget work session Wednesday, Smith said he would like to revisit the mill levy and a possible reduction.

"I just want to have that conversation one more time," he said.

Smith said Thursday that he supports a 1/4-mill reduction of the county's overall mill levy. The chairman said he has had the chance to "really dig down" into the budget and favors some kind of relief for taxpayers after appraisals have increased the valuation of properties in the county.

As part of their budget meetings, commissioners met Wednesday with representatives of outside organizations that have received funding from the county in the past.

Two of those organizations are the economic development agencies Leavenworth County Development Corporation and Leavenworth County Port Authority.

The county has received a funding request of $90,629 for LCDC in 2022 and 208,590 for the Port Authority. This would be a total increase in funding of $7,576 for the two organizations compared to what was approved for this year.

Some members of the County Commission have proposed creating an economic development officer position for the county. The issue was discussed during meetings of an economic development task force. The task force included representation of the County Commission, LCDC and Port Authority.

Representatives of LCDC and the Port Authority met with county commissioners Wednesday afternoon.

During Wednesday's meeting, Commissioner Mike Stieben reviewed a proposal for establishing a county economic development office. He said the proposal was discussed by the task force.

Under the proposal, funding for the office would come from the same source used by the county to provide funding to LCDC and the Port Authority.

This would result in a cut in county funding to LCDC and the Port Authority. But Stieben said the proposal included ways for making up the shortfall.

The proposal led to disagreement among members of the task force.

"And I will tell you, the last (task force) meeting was ugly," Harland Russell said.

Russell is a past president of LCDC who served on the economic development task force. He spoke during Wednesday's County Commission meeting.

Russell said he felt like county commissioners on the task force had already made a decision and LCDC and the Port Authority were being told they had to figure out how to make up a $150,000 cut in funding.

Two commissioners, Smith and Stieben, served on the task force.

Commissioner Vicky Kaaz said the other three county commissioners had not seen information about the proposal before Wednesday.

"This is our first go at it," she said.

She said a decision has not been made regarding funding for LCDC and the Port Authority.

Kaaz said she respects the work performed by LCDC and the Port Authority.

"I don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water," she said.

Kaaz said she wants to make sure LCDC and the Port Authority are solvent and solid.

Commissioner Doug Smith said later in the meeting that commissioners are "not happy with what we have. We need to be happy with what we have."

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR

In other business

The Leavenworth County Commission:

• Approved a resolution to expand the Leavenworth County Planning Commission from nine members to 10.

Commissioners also approved the appointment of Wolf Schmidt, Allan Stork and Amy Baker to the Planning Commission and the reappointment of Rocky Himpel.

• Approved a resolution to adopt the Kansas Homeland Security Region L Mitigation Plan.

• Approved a board order to authorize the initiation of tax foreclosure action for properties that are subject to foreclosure because of unpaid delinquent property taxes.

• Approved a bid from Kaw Valley Engineering, Lenexa, in the amount of $16,750. The company will perform surveying services for a renovation project at the former Saint Luke's Cushing Hospital building, which is owned by the county.