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Marion to raise taxes but not mills

Staff writer

Marion’s city council will need to convene a public hearing under new state budget requirements because it plans to increase taxes in 2022 even if the estimated tax rate might be slightly lower.

Council members reviewed preliminary budget numbers Monday.

The estimated mill rate would go from 71.947 this year to 71.945 next year, city administrator Roger Holter told council members. A mill rate representing no tax increase would have been 71.358 — a 0.0589 reduction instead of just a 0.002 reduction.

The actual rate won’t be determined until fall, when appraisal records are made final. Last year at this time, the estimated rate was 0.005 lower than what the actual rate ended up being.

The only thing technically being considered now is the total amount of tax money to be levied.

Mill rates often are estimated at this time, but actual rates frequently change.

“The residents will notice no increase on their mill levy from the city,” Holter said.

In fact, the city does plan to increase total taxes levied but estimates that the rate in mills may not change because of increased property valuation.

Revenue from municipal court and sales tax also have gone up.

The city will have to file its certified budget with the county clerk by Oct. 1.

As proposed at this time, the city is eliminating two part-time parks and cemetery maintenance positions but keeping full-time employees it hired last year.

The budget for the cemetery is proposed to increase from $29,540 in 2020 to $66,408 in 2022.

The budget for parks is proposed to increase from $45,875 in 2020 to $86,192 in 2022.

The budget for commodities like gravel and asphalt for street and alley work has been cut, but the budget for street improvement — presumably for personnel and equipment — and contracted services has increased from $100,000 in 2021 to $150,000 for 2022.

The city plans to replace the 200 block of N. Roosevelt St. and the 300 block of N. Freeborn St. this year, and the 100 block of S. Coble St. and another block still to be determined next year, Holter said.

“We’re going to use the additional money to do chip sealing on four to six streets in town,” he said.

Chip sealing will be contracted out, and the contract price will include supplies.

In other business, council members voted to delay the start of payments on a Kansas Department of Health and Environment loan used to pay for waterline replacements.

Among other things, that means an anticipated increase in monthly water bills paid by residents will not happen until February.

Originally the first payment would be due in August, and at that point water rates would also have to increase under terms of the city’s loan for the project. The six-month delay in starting payments will make the first payment and the increased water rates due in February.

The council also approved spending:

  • $5,527.02 for a new green-and-white beacon that will be installed by city electric workers at Marion Municipal Airport. In answer to the newspaper’s questions before the meeting, Holter said the current beacon had failed three times in recent months and defied attempts to repair it.
  • $2,561.50, including travel expense, to an Emporia company for maintaining an air conditioning unit at Marion Community Center. Holter said local repair operations told the city they could not work on the project because it was too large.
  • $1,052.50, mainly to students, for serving as umpires and night ball field manager in June at the city’s ballpark, which is being turned over — presumably along with this expense — to the Marion school district next month.
  • $924.49 to a Wichita firm to print and mail city bills and the city’s public works newsletter in June. Less than half the expense was for postage. Holter said the city thought that using the outside firm cost less than would mailing the bills using staff labor.
  • $524 to reimburse the Historic Elgin Hotel for part of the cost of printing a map, to be distributed to travelers, showing locations of local shops.
  • $300 to private pilot Ty Zeiner for mowing grass runways at the airport. Holter said four pilots at the airport still used grass runways instead of the airport’s paved runway because of the age of their planes and tires. Other bids were sought, but they were at least $100 higher, Holter said, and Zeiner has mowed the runways several times this year without charging.

This article corrects an error that appeared in earlier editions, which listed the city's no-tax-increase mill rate (71.358) as its current mill rate (71.945).

Last modified July 15, 2021

 

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