Roeland Park holding tax rate steady; benefits from Walmart’s delayed move to Gateway

One of the charts presented to Roeland Park residents Monday.
One of the charts presented to Roeland Park residents Monday.

A Roeland Park community meeting on the city’s 2016 budget drew only about a dozen residents in addition to city staff and councilors Monday night, a marked contrast to two years ago when a full house of well more than 100 people packed the community center.

Among the favorable conditions for Roeland Park is the continued pushback of a Gateway development in Mission, which means Roeland Park continues to collect sales tax from Walmart and the surrounding businesses that are affected by Walmart’s presence. That has been estimated to be worth $700,000 per year to the city.

City Administrator Aaron Otto told residents that Walmart has told the city it is still intent on moving to Mission. The Roeland Park budget slots the Walmart exit now for February 2017, even though no apparent forward progress has been made on the Gateway development since the groundbreaking nearly two years ago.

The 2016 draft budget for Roeland Park maintains the property tax rate, a plan that was initiated in 2014 to keep the rate steady at least through 2016. It also predicts only an increase in the general fund budget of about $30,000 over the budget that was adopted for 2015, although 2015 is now projected to come in with lower spending than had been outlined in the budget.

Otto said the new budget maintains city services and programs as well as funding city infrastructure, including replacement of corrugated stormwater pipes and an increasing investment in street maintenance.

Otto also presented a number of charts that show Roeland Park below average from other nearby Johnson County cities in spending per capita, mill rates and staff size per capita. He said sales and property tax revenues are beginning to recover from recession lows.