2018 Unified Government Budget Calls for Property Tax Cut

As the community celebrates the 20th anniversary of voters approving the consolidation of the city and county governments to form the Unified Government, Mayor Mark Holland and the UG Commission are looking to a 2018 budget which maintains community momentum and again reduces property taxes.

The 2018 Proposed Budget recommends cutting the KCK property tax rate by 4.8%. That’s on top of a 4.6% reduction last year. In 1996, as the movement to form the Unified Government was underway, the owner of a $100,000 house paid $1,115 in city/county property tax. 20 years later in 2018, the owner of a $100,000 house will pay $905 in Unified Government property tax. That’s a reduction of $210, or nearly 19% less.

The budget uses $4.1-million of the $12.4-million in STAR Bond revenues to accomplish the property tax reduction. The STAR Bond revenues, generated by the bonds used to build Village West paying off five years early, also allow the Unified Government to increase public safety spending, launch the Stabilize, Occupy and Revitalize (SOAR) blight reduction effort, and pay for a number of other community services.

The 2018 Budget is built on the Strategic Plan and Goals set by the Commission as determined through retreats, the Citizen Survey, listening tours with thousands of citizens and operational studies. 

The budget moves the KCK property tax rate from 41.8 mills to 39.8 mills. KCK ranks 13th out of the 25 largest cities in Kansas, meaning 12 of those cities have higher property taxes than KCK. In 1997, KCK had the highest tax rate of the biggest cities in the state. The Wyandotte County property tax rate is 95th out 105 counties, meaning 94 Kansas counties have a higher tax rate than Wyandotte. For a majority of KCK residents, the UG property tax is less than half of the total tax bill at 47%.

Reduction of the property tax mill levies by four mills during 2017 and 2018 combined with the additional $9.4- million in STAR revenue allocated to the City and County General Funds, has resulted in shifting the tax base towards a greater reliance on sales tax revenues. Sales tax revenue in 2018 is 25% of total General Fund revenues compared with 20% in 2016.  Real estate and personal property tax revenue in 2018 declined to 33% of the total compared with 35% in 2016. This tax base shift is a direct result of the impact of economic development activity first undertaken during the early years of the UG consolidation. This tax base shift provides property tax relief to residents.

“The strong support of the community for creating the Unified Government, building Village West and implementing the dedicated Public Safety and Infrastructure Sales Tax, are important reasons the community is positioned to provide the high quality services citizens expect and improve them in the future,” said County Administrator Doug Bach.

The Proposed 2018 Budget launches a number of important initiatives and improvements in services.

Public Safety initiatives include:

  • Police Body and Vehicle Cameras
  • 30 new Police Vehicles
  • Upgraded 911 communications consoles
  • New fire station construction and renovation of existing stations
  • 9 new fire trucks and other vehicles
  • Construction of a modern Juvenile Justice Center
  • Completion of jail improvements including double bunking of inmates

SOAR Blight Reduction initiative include:

  • Increased spending for demolition of abandoned and unsafe structure
  • Increased spending to increase mowing and property maintenance
  • Stronger enforcement of building and safety codes

Innovation and Technology initiatives include:

  • A new 311 Customer Service application
  • Launch of an upgraded, more user-friendly Unified Government website
  • Advancements in computer software and programs

Community Infrastructure initiatives include:

  • Improvements to the sewer system
  • ADA curb and sidewalk replacements
  • New equipment to improve pothole and street repairs
  • Several important street improvement projects including Leavenworth and Hutton Roads