By vote of 8-4, PV council approves budget with slight tax rate hike

Prairie Village council members Laura Wassmer and Dale Beckerman

The Prairie Village city council on Monday approved a .692 mill increase in the city’s property tax rate for 2011 — although Prairie Village residents can expect to see their actual property tax bills from the city drop slightly from 2010 levels.

The county appraiser predicts that property values in the city will fall 5.6 percent from 2010 to 2011, so the 3.8 percent mill rate hike will actually translate to a 2011 tax bill that’s $9.57 lower on average than the 2010 bill.

But several council members and a handful of residents expressed discontent with the city’s move to approve even a nominal tax increase in tough economic times.

Resident Ann Doyle told the council that, though she understood the move wouldn’t actually increase the amount PV residents were paying, she felt the council needed to consider how difficult it was for people who’d lost their jobs or been forced into early retirement to make ends meet.

“My property value keeps decreasing every year, which is just like a loss to me,” Doyle said. “People are feeling it.”

But proponents of the budget said the modest tax rate increase had been carefully considered, and was the best way to maintain the high level of services and solid infrastructure that residents have come to expect.

“Our costs keep going up, even if we don’t increase services,” said council member Laura Wassmer, Ward 4. “We have cut and cut and cut to the point where we’re at a level where you do see potholes in the street. Prairie Village residents have high expectations, and we want to make sure that people get what they expect. There really is not any fat left in this budget to cut.”

The council members who voted against the budget were Ruth Hopkins, Ward 2; Diana Ewy Sharp, Ward 6; David Morrison, Ward 5; and Al Herrera, Ward 1.