Fairway budget holds tax rates steady for fourth year

Fairway residents will see no increase in property tax rates for the fourth consecutive year. The draft budget, which the city council will approve or amend later this month, shows total general fund spending up 1.6 percent in the 2014 budget.

fairway_titleThe mill levy is again 18.617 mills. The average home in Fairway is appraised at $311,333 which would result in an annual tax bill of $666.55 to support city services. After four years of recession-driven decline in total valuation of property in the city, valuations went up this year by a modest .83 percent. A substantial 2.54 percent drop two years ago also was partially due to the KU Clinical Research Facility on Shawnee Mission Parkway becoming an exempt property.

The total general fund budget for Fairway only increases spending by $60,460 in 2014 to $3,829,343. The revenue needed to cover the increase is expected to come from a variety of sources, including the slight increase in valuation and more sales tax revenue. The sales tax income does get a 2014 boost because a five-year agreement that gave back a portion of city sales tax at Stroud’s restaurant expires and the city will receive all of the revenue next year. A similar agreement is still in place at Pizza 51. The city’s sales tax rate is 1.5 percent, but one-third of the rate goes to dedicated funds.

Fairway is seeing some savings next year that allow it to maintain its rates as well. City administrator Kate Gunja said that city is especially proud of lowering health care premiums by offering new plan options. The purchase of street lights from KCP&L is now paying off with savings in the general fund. Refinancing also has lowered debt service costs for the city.

In addition to the property tax levy, Fairway residents also pay for trash service and a storm water utility fee on their annual tax bills. Trash service is up slightly for 2014, but took a big dip this year when the city went in on a combined bid with Westwood and Roeland Park. Storm water charges for residential structures is a flat $5 per month.

The budget restores the holiday light display in Neale Peterson Park and schedules other improvements at the park. The city will also have reserves of 12.5 percent which exceeds its minimum guideline. It also provides a three percent merit-based salary increase for full-time employees.

Tax rates in Fairway have remained constant since a significant jump for the 2011 budget year. The public hearing on the budget will be 6:45 p.m. August 12. The full budget document can be found here.