Commissioners approve revenue neutral resolution

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

Leavenworth city commissioners have approved a resolution that will allow the city to exceed what is considered a revenue neutral rate for the 2022 budget.

Commissioners unanimously approved the resolution when they met Tuesday evening. One commissioner, Mark Preisinger, voted by telephone.

The vote followed a public hearing on the issue.

The resolution will allow the city government to collect more money through property taxes in 2022 than the previous year.

Local taxing entities use mill levies to set property taxes. City officials are proposing a 0.66-mill decrease to the city's overall mill levy for 2022. But despite this mill levy decrease, the city would still collect more money in property taxes next year because of increases to the valuation of properties in Leavenworth.

A total mill levy of 31.142 mills has been proposed for the city's 2022 budget. The revenue neutral rate for the city's budget would be 28.18 mills, according to the resolution approved by commissioners.

While commissioners have voted to exceed the revenue neutral rate, they have not yet approved the city's 2022 budget. City Manager Paul Kramer said this vote will take place Sept. 7.

Tuesday's public hearing was the result of a new state law that requires commissioners to conduct such a hearing and approve a resolution if they intend to exceed the revenue neutral rate.

During Tuesday's hearing, City Manager Paul Kramer presented what he said was the city's position on exceeding the revenue neutral rate.

He said half of the increased property tax revenue that will be collected by the city next year will not remain with the city government. Instead, it will be distributed to businesses and property owners as a result of economic development incentives. However, this increased property tax revenue will still count toward the revenue neutral rate.

Kramer also argued the city is facing increased costs related to maintaining personnel and equipment for public safety. He said the city also is facing other increased costs associated with inflation.

Only one member of the public addressed commissioners during the public hearing.

Maren Hart, who is a candidate for City Commission, spoke in opposition to exceeding the revenue neutral rate.

Hart argued commissioners already had made up their minds to exceed the revenue neutral rate.

"These proceedings are merely a formality to be in compliance with (the new state law)," she said.

She argued three commissioners who are up for reelection this year will be voted out of office for raising taxes.

She encouraged people to vote for herself and two other candidates in the race.

"Thank you for campaigning at our meeting," Mayor Nancy Bauder said.

Bauder and Commissioner Jermaine Wilson argued they are not raising taxes.

"We're not raising property taxes," Bauder said.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR

In other business

The Leavenworth City Commission:

• Met behind closed doors in executive session for about 20 minutes to discuss security measures.

• Approved a resolution to authorize the closing of streets for the Camp Leavenworth festival and allow alcohol to be consumed at the site of the event.

The festival is scheduled for Sept. 24 and 25 in downtown Leavenworth.

• Approved a bid from Central Poly-Bag in the amount of $144,900 for 23,000 rolls of garbage bags. Garbage bags are distributed twice a year to the city's refuse customers.

• Approved the renewal of health and vision insurance plans for employees offered by United HealthCare. There will be a 4% cost increase for the medical insurance program and a 5% increase for the vision coverage.

Commissioners also approved the renewal of dental insurance plans through Delta Dental with no increase to current rates.

• Approved the expense of $46,250 for the demolition of a house at 703 N. Eighth St. that was damaged by fire. The demolition already had taken place because the structure was considered an immediate hazard.

• Approved ordinances for demolition and nuisance assessments.

• Approved a right-of-way encroachment agreement with Geiger Ready-Mix to allow the business to construct a parking lot adjacent to Maple Street. This agreement replaces an earlier request to vacate a portion of Maple Street.

• Reached a consensus to advance a proposed ordinance for rezoning 410 S. Second St. from a light industrial district to a central business district. The ordinance will come back to commissioners during a future meeting for a final vote.