Roeland Park council exploring service, maintenance cuts that would allow for 7 mill property tax reduction

The Roeland Park Aquatic Center.
The Roeland Park Aquatic Center.

By Holly Cook

The Roeland Park City Council tonight will continue to look at options for cutting the city’s property tax rate to the levels in place before the council had to make plans for the expected departure of Walmart back in 2014.

Last week, city staff presented six options for decreasing Roeland Park’s mill levy by 7. Limiting the city’s pool to summer-only operations, reducing street maintenance funds and decreasing the general fund balance were among the cost-cutting possibilities outlined by city staff. (You can find details on the proposals here). A 7-mill decrease would result in an estimated loss of $525,000 in property taxes for the 2018 budget year.

Assistant City Administrator Jennifer Jones-Lacy noted the city would not see notable savings from limiting the pool’s operation to just the summer until 2020, due to the cooperative agreement the city has with Johnson County Park and Recreation.

Earlier this month, members of the council directed staff to provide examples of how the city could cut the mill levy by 7, instead of the tentatively planned 2 mills, during a council workshop. Councilors Tim Janssen and Ryan Kellerman urged the council to look at the potential 7-mill cut while councilmembers Michael Poppa, Teresa Kelly, Erin Thompson and Mayor Joel Marquardt cautioned against it.

Last week’s meeting also included a public hearing on the mill levy.

Former councilmember Linda Mau, who is also running for mayor and city council, said she was concerned the council was not discussing how the city’s sales tax was increased in addition to two mill levy hikes in anticipation of Walmart leaving.

“We tend to forget that,” Mau said.

Councilmembers plan to spend the duration of tonight’s special council meeting and workshop discussion the budget.