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Mill levy proposed to decrease first time in a decade as property values increase

Topeka WIBW-TV logo Topeka WIBW-TV 7/5/2022 Sarah Motter
FILE - Topeka City Hall © Provided by Topeka WIBW-TV FILE - Topeka City Hall

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The mill levy has been proposed to decrease for the first time in a decade in Kansas’ Capitol City as property values increase.

On Tuesday, July 5, the City of Topeka’s Administrative and Financial Services Department released its proposed operating budget for 2023.

The City said its FY23 budget is $340.1 million, which is about a 0.33% increase from the previous year. Included in the budget, it said $104.1 million will be sent to the General Fund - the city’s largest single fund which finances many of Topeka’s municipal services.

Overall, the City noted that the General Fund Budget increased by 6.2% from the previous year. Over the past five years, it said this fund has not increased by more than 2% from the previous year. It said the larger increase is a direct result of inflationary costs which have risen to about 8.6%.

The City said it has recognized the impact inflation has on taxpayers and has raised costs carefully and with intention.

“We are excited to present the 2023 operating budget for the City of Topeka. We are confident that the budget will allow the City to offer high-quality services at an appropriate cost to taxpayers. We continue to work to align City resources with the needs and values of our community, and this budget puts us in a great place to do that,” said Stephen Wade, Director of the Administrative and Financial Services Department

Budget Priorities:

The City said the proposed budget supports the following priorities established by the Governing Body:

  • Infrastructure investment
  • Commitment to public safety
  • Commitment to neighborhood development
  • Strategic quality of life investments
  • Good governance

At the start of the budget cycle, the City said it held six community workshops centered on the priorities which were established by the Governing Body. During these workshops, it said the City received feedback on the goals of the community and objectives for each priority.

Since the workshops, the City noted that staff has worked to incorporate ideas from the community into the budget, along with the development of key indicators to measure progress towards each priority.

Expenditure Highlights:

The City noted that the largest part of the General Fund Budget - 77.8% - will be spent on personnel at $80.9 million. Personnel costs, including wages and benefits, have increased by 5.7% compared to the previous year.

The City said commodities - which include materials for asphalt, rock, sand, salt, fuel, chemicals, and office supplies - have seen the largest increase as a result of inflation. It said that budget increased 15.5% from the previous year while contractual expenses have increased 6.8%.

Just like other governing entities, the City indicated it faces challenges in employee recruitment. As of the publication of the budget, it said the vacancy rate in the City is about 12%. The budget includes $100,000 for the Human Resources budget to recruit talent to the Capital City.

Mill Levy:

Each year, the City said it adopts a mill levy rate which decides the amount of property tax it will get. It said 1 mill is about $1.3 million.

For the past decade, Topeka’s mill levy has remained flat with no increases or decreases. However, after an assessed value increase of 8.5%, the Governing Body ordered staff to decrease the mill levy by 1 mill.

Next Steps:

The City noted that the Governing Body and staff will host a Budget Workshop at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 26 at the Holiday Building. Members of the community re welcome to attend in person or watch along on the City’s Facebook Page, its Livestream or on Cox Local Channel 4.

On July 12, the City said the Governing Body will vote on if it will exceed the Revenue Neutral Rate from the FY22 budget.

The City indicated that the budget will be presented at City Council Meetings on July 19, Aug. 9, and Aug. 16. It said members of the community will be allowed to make public comments at these meetings.

The City also said a public budget hearing will be held on Sept. 6 in which residents will be given another chance to offer feedback on the budget.

To view the entire proposed budget for FY2023, click HERE.

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