Despite publication of higher projections for 2020, county leaders adopted a budget authority for lesser amounts, but still showing a rise taxes even after a comment was heard during public hearing.
Atchison County Commission members adopted on Tuesday, Aug. 20, budget authority not to exceed about $18.1 million in spending for projected expenditures. Of that amount, it’s anticipated the adopted 53.149 mill levy rate will generate less than $9.2 million in ad valorem tax collections from taxpayers.
The published budget that commissioners approved to publish on Aug. 7 sought authority for more than $18.2 million dollars in expenditures that proposed to raise about $9.3 million in property taxes from a 53.903 tax mill levy. At that time, commissioners Chairman Jack Bower, Vice-chairman Eric Noll and Commissioner Henry W. “Bill” Pohl agreed they were intent to lower the levy by the time they approved the 2020 budget.
For 2020 each mill carries a value of $172,454. The adopted mill levy reflects a .754 decrease from the recently published 2020 budget proposal. However, it is a .012 mill increase from the 53.137 mill levy for the current year. The authority is about $17.4 million for the 2019 budgeted expenditures calculated from each mill valued at $165,731.
Ray Ladd, extension agent for the Kansas State University Atchison County Extension Office, was present and expressed concerns during the public hearing. Ladd said there might be some needs in the Extension Office that might exceed the budgeted expenditures. The copy machines and computers are necessary in the office to produce many newsletters and other sources of information related to our extension service work, and vehicle needs might arise, Ladd said.
Commissioners published $145,000 for the Atchison County Extension Council’s expenditures that includes $5,000 for the department’s capital outlay. It was on May 14 when Extension Council members submitted request for $161,898 on behalf of the department. However, the amount published reflected $16,898 less than the funding requested.
Commissioners assured Ladd the copiers and computer needs for the Extension budget fall under the county’s IT budget.
Homeowners of a house valued at $100,000 can expect a $611.21 on the tax bill for their home. This represents about a 13-cent increase from the current year’s tax bill. If commissioners would have adopted their initially proposed budget as presented, the potential tax bill might have been $619.88 for a $100,000 house. Instead, the adopted amount represents $8.67 shaved from the recently published budget proposal.
Also present for the hearing was a man identified as a farmer. The farmer declined to comment during the hearing. However, after the regular session resumed, the farmer told commissioners they needed to stay within the budget. The farmer complained that his wasteland was appraised higher than his cropland and that did not make any sense to him.
Commissioners agreed they don’t set land value because that is the appraiser’s job, and it is done in accordance with state guidelines. Commissioners also agreed taxpayers have the right to appeal their appraised values.
Noll said the county serves as the tax collector for all the taxing entities within the county that includes school districts, all cities, townships, watersheds and fire districts, etc. Commissioners only set the tax levy for the county, which is only represented by a portion of the taxes due reflected on the tax bill, Noll said.
Commissioners have no control over the amount of taxes the other entities levy. Taxpayers do write make their checks payable to Atchison County. Then the county treasurer distributes the paid taxes to each of the respective entities.