Mission Woods mayoral candidates on the issues: Property taxes and rising home values

Annual notices of valuation from the Johnson County Appraiser’s Office are going out starting this week.

Last month, we asked our readers what issues they wanted to hear the candidates running for local office address ahead of this fall’s local elections primary. Based on the input we received, we developed a three-item questionnaire for candidates running for mayor in Mission Woods

Today we publish the candidates’ responses to item one:

Property values across northeast Johnson County have seen steep increases in recent years. Are you comfortable with the city’s approach to managing property tax rates in this environment? Why or why not?

Darrell Franklin

I believe property tax rates are manageable at the city level in a two-fold process of city administration and taxpayer voice.

Property values are escalating in northeast Johnson County: the real estate tax statement from the county is a reality check to Mission Woods residents received annually. This notice is a bill due, but the statement contains good news. No resident wants to see property value stagnate, or even worse, decrease in value. The balance of increased property taxes, in relation to a corresponding rise in property values, is an equation homeowners make in terms of evaluating their personal finances. Through an appeals process, individuals can lobby to have the appraised value of a property lowered, with a reduction in taxation. On-line estimates and listings of recent real estate activity are immediate, handy tools in understanding the value of one’s property.

The price of a house in Mission Woods remains a bargain relative to comparable suburbs across the nation. Access to excellent public schools, quality infrastructure, law enforcement presence, the charm of a neighborhood with mature trees, landscaping and sidewalks: these attributes that make our city attractive come at a cost. Hopefully, when Mission Woods residents open their tax statements, they perceive a value in their dollars spent when they look around our city. In Johnson County, fifty percent of collected tax revenues go toward supporting our schools: city, county, and state entities split the remainder. Usage of public institutions like libraries and amenities like parks and playgrounds should never be taken for granted

As mayor, my job would be to work with the council and city treasurer to provide the requisite oversight to create the same balance sheet of expense-to-tax value, both real and qualified, for individual homeowners who are footing the tax bill. The voices of residents are paramount to the equation of taxation and services rendered. Recently passed Kansas law states a city (i.e. residents) must vote on any future increase in mill-levy rates. Appeals processes exist and tax lids are stipulated for the sole purpose of individuals having a say in local taxation.

Robert Tietze (incumbent)

Yes, I am very comfortable with the way we have approached and continue to approach our property tax rates. I have been Mayor of Mission Woods for eight years and during that time we have been able to keep our mill levy as one of the lowest in Northeast Johnson County. For the last two years it has been at 15.40. Since 2011 it was never higher than 16.28. Through good fiscal management and through the passage of our first retail sales tax of 1% we have created an additional positive revenue stream that allows us to address the items that every city faces. ie: infrastructure repairs, enhanced services to residents etc.

Tomorrow we’ll post the candidates’ responses to item two:

With a population of around 200 residents, Mission Woods is the smallest incorporated city in Johnson County. Do you believe Mission Woods should continue to be its own city? Or should it look to merge with a neighboring municipality? Why or why not?