Even though it is one of the smaller cities in northeast Johnson County, Westwood has as much business action that could affect its upcoming budget cycles as any of its larger counterparts. That is part of the Westwood history as well.
As the city council passed the 2016 budget this month, it had to look ahead to what might be in play almost a year out when the first phase of the Woodside Village project on Rainbow Blvd. could mean both new sales tax revenues in Westwood and rental fees. The city is no stranger to having its tax base buffeted by changes in the commercial property.
When acres of Sprint headquarters transitioned into the non-profit University of Kansas Hospital, Westwood took a tax hit that saw its mill levy rise from just over eight mills in 2000 to a peak of more than 25.5 mills in 2008. That has now dropped to 22.726 mills in the 2016 budget, essentially stable for the last three years.
A glance at the Westwood property valuations shows a decrease of about $1.3 million, but that is in the face of more than 10 percent of the city’s property, $2.2 million, moving off the tax rolls – again because of a change to non-profit status for a building. This time it is the office owned by Midwest Transplant Network (MTN), a non-profit company that owns the remodeled building at 1900 W.47th Place. However, this time the city will recover the tax money lost through a Payment In-Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement that sees MTN pay what its same level plus a two percent increase each year for the next 10 years. In reality, the total value of property in Westwood is on the increase.
In the meantime, City Clerk Fred Sherman says the city had to make some estimates about the amount of business generated at Woodside Village in the second half of 2016. The city will receive 60 percent of the new sales tax at Woodside, which will include two restaurants in the first phase. The remainder and an additional Community Improvement District sales tax will go to bonds on the project.
The last few years have seen a growth in business, including the Walmart market on 47th Street, that have revived sales tax revenue – estimated to be 24 percent of the city’s revenue – in 2016. Only 20 percent of revenue will come from property tax.
Still in Westwood’s future is the protential redevelopment of the Entercom acreage across the street from Westwood View Elementary School.