Tax bills provide an ‘oh, be joyful’ moment
Grumbling about property tax bills, first half payments of which are due a week from today, has turned “Ho, ho, ho!” into “Oh, oh, oh!” for many Marion County taxpayers.
Many bills increased markedly this year not only because of increased government spending but also because of increases in appraised value of properties.
For a typical Marion home with a fair market value of around $100,000, the total tax increase amounted to nearly 5%.
The biggest increase came from the City of Marion itself, increasing its taxes nearly 9%. That resulted from a combination of a typical 5% increase in assessed value and a nearly 4% increase in the actual tax rate.
Taxes for operations of Marion County government increased more than 6%, with a bit more than 1% coming from an increased levy and the rest from increased assessed value.
Individual taxes, of course, will vary depending on individual property assessments.
On tax bills, a key section at the bottom, labeled “Revenue from property tax levies,” shows the actual dollar increases that each governmental unit will obtain from 2023 tax bills.
Again, the City of Marion was among the governmental units adding the most to its budget, increasing its overall tax levy by 13.51%.
Marion County increased its levy by 4.40%, followed by the Marion-Florence school district with increases of 4.27% and 3.97% in two separate funds plus a brand-new tax for a newly approved recreation district.
Rec district spending of $49,129.49 actually exceeds the $31,788.44 increase in spending for the schools’ state-mandated general fund and is close to matching the $63,152.28 increase in spending for the district’s local-option “other” fund.
All three of those increases could have been wiped away if district voters had chosen not to renew previous debt to build a new concession stand and weight room adjacent to Warrior Stadium.
All in all, the owner of a typical home in Marion will be paying close to $900 each to the city and the county, more than $500 to the school district and rec commission, a little more than $100 to St. Luke Hospital, and around $20 to the Chisholm Trail Extension District.
As typically happens, tax rates listed as being approved in August and September were mere estimates, pending release of final assessment figures.
In Marion’s case, the city council voted in September to approve an estimated tax rate of 74.477 mills, up from 72.305 mills in the previous year.
However, once final assessment figures came in, the final tax rate shot up to 74.783 mills.
As a result, what initially was billed as a 3.0% increase in the mill rate became a 3.4% increase, and both those numbers pale in comparison to the actual 13.51% increase in total tax revenue to be received by the city.
That number is what was expressed last summer in “revenue neutral” notices sent to taxpayers under a relatively new state law.
The revenue-neutral rate is designed to show how much more each governmental unit actually will be taxing property owners after figuring in increases in assessed value.
For taxpayers hard-pressed to make first-half payments before the deadline of Dec. 20 each year, the county treasurer’s office offers an escrow plan that spreads payments out over 12 months.
Without that plan or a similar escrow agreement as part of a home mortgage, taxpayers must pay at least half of their total property tax bill on Dec. 20 each year and the remainder on May 10 of the following year.
No separate notice is provided before the second half payment is due. Missing just the first-half payment makes the total amount delinquent and subject to interest and other charges. Driver’s license changes also cannot be made for any delinquent taxpayer.
Payment coupons coming with each tax bill include a check box allowing residents to request forms on which they may appeal the assessed value of their property.
In addition to mailing in a check, taxpayers may go to a state website, http://www.kansas.gov/property tax, to pay taxes online.
Extra fees apply. Unlike private businesses in Kansas, which cannot charge extra to take credit cards or electronic fund transfers, government is allowed to do so.