By Holly Cook
A 2-mill decrease was included in the preliminary 2018 budget plans reviewed by the Roeland Park city council Monday. The lower rate would trigger a $144,000 loss in property tax revenue, which the city plans to offset by paying debts using reserves instead of issuing new bonds in 2018.
You can find an overview of the city’s budget process here.
During the May 1 governing body workshop, councilmembers agreed to consider rolling back the mill levy. The mill was increased by 26 percent in the 2014 budget in an effort to pad reserve funds in anticipation of Walmart leaving the city for the Mission Gateway development. In late 2016 Walmart pulled out of the project and decided to keep its Roeland Park store.
Councilmember Sheri McNeil asked whether the mill could be lowered even more than 2 in the 2018 budget and suggested decreasing it further in the 2019 and 2020 budgets.
City Administrator Keith Moody said if assessed property values continue to grow greater than the consumer price index, the mill levy would need to be decreased under new state regulations managing tax lids.
“It’s likely you are going to have to lower your mill in subsequent years,” he said.
During the citizen comment portion of Monday’s meeting, former councilmember Linda Mau said she expected the council to lower the mill levy rate.
“I want my money back. I don’t want another park, I want you to lower the mill levy,” Mau said.
The working budget also included 4 percent merit increases and 2 percent market adjustment increases for city employees. The pay bumps would cost the city a little more than $100,000 in fiscal year 2018.
Councilmember Becky Fast questioned the inclusion of the salary increase and said she thought that issue needed more discussion.
“I think I am just not for having that in the budget,” Fast said.
Moody said surveys had shown city workers’ salaries were below the market average. Roeland Park isn’t the only northeast Johnson County facing similar issues. Prairie Village this week gave final approval to a series of adjustments to increase city employee compensation after a review found its wages were below average.
“Having that set aside in the budget..it’s not wishful thinking,” Moody said of the Roeland Park salary increases.
Other items included in the preliminary budget:
- $130,000 for upgrading sidewalks
- $50,000 to update the city’s Comprehensive Plan
- $38,000 for installing shade structures at R Park, Granada Park and the Aquatic Center
- $30,000 to remove dead trees at Nall Park
- $26,000 for R Park upgrades
- $24,000 to update the city’s branding
- $10,000 to update the city’s art collection
- $7,500 for a crime prevention initiative in the city’s business district
Roeland Park residents will have the opportunity to provide feedback on the budget during the May 24 budget forum at the Roeland Park Community Center. The presentation starts at 6 p.m.