The Parsons City Commission likely will hold a public hearing regarding raising taxes — even if they ultimately are able to hold the line on the mill levy.
City Manager Debbie Lamb discussed with commissioners the new regulations regarding budgets during a Thursday work session and the Tuesday regular meeting.
The Kansas Legislature enacted a law that sets a revenue neutral property tax rate for municipalities and other local taxing entities that will change from year to year based on the previous year’s tax rate and current valuation. If taxing entities plan to go beyond the rate, they must notify their county offices by July 20 and then hold a public hearing.
Lamb told commissioners the 2022 city budget won’t be ready by July 20, but she advised the commission to schedule the public hearing just in case taxes rise. Many taxing units are doing this in case valuation jumps, allowing them to receive more revenue at the same rate. The city will have to set a tax rate higher than the revenue neutral rate prior to July 20, but the rate can be decreased later.
On Thursday, Lamb said the estimated valuation for the city is $935,000 lower than last year’s. After talking to the county, Lamb told the commission Tuesday that the Holiday Inn Express and Parsons Conference Center are exempted from this year’s taxes. The hotel complex was at first placed on the tax roll at about $1.6 million in 2020 before a 10-year exemption began this year. Valuation won’t be finalized until after the budget is completed in August.
The lower valuation places the city’s revenue neutral tax rate at 55.635 mills, up from the city’s actual tax rate of 54.613 in 2020.
Lamb said she may call for a special meeting for the commission prior to the July 20 deadline to go over some numbers. The commission has a work session scheduled for July 15 and a regular meeting scheduled for July 19. The commission may take the necessary action on one of those days regarding possibly going beyond the revenue neutral rate.
In other business the commissioners:
— Approved a loan request of $20,000 from Doug and Brenda Billingsly, owners of PureLife LLC from a revolving loan fund designed to provide gap financing for local businesses. The Billingslys plan to buy the building they lease for their PureLife Nutrition & Well-Being, 1301 Main. The commissioners also approved loaning an additional $30,000 from the fund to Kandy Rushing, owner of Grow at Eden LLC, 1503 22000 Road. Rushing already had borrowed $60,000 from the fund for her child care center and preschool. She needs additional money because construction costs on the addition of her building exceeded estimates.
— Approved a special use permit for Casey and Margie Doyle doing business as Doyle Glass Co., 502 S. 35th St. The permit will allow the Doyles to expand on their commercial building on a residentially zoned property. The business was in operation when the land was zoned in the 1970s, so it was allowed to continue to operate there as long as the business didn’t expand beyond its existing footprint. The permit will expire when the business closes. When the property sells, the new owner will need a change in zoning or another special use permit to operate a business there. The Doyles plan to add to their existing building and then eventually tear down the old portion.
— Approved payment of $96,988.26 to Heck & Wicker Construction Inc. for work completed June 1-20 on the 16th Street (U.S. 59) project. Lamb said the city staff has instructed Heck & Wicker to take care of some punch list items before the project is complete. Those include reseeding or placing sod where needed. She also said a rag hanging from a traffic light will be removed and a cap installed when it arrives. The original cap was missing when the lights were installed. The city still holds the retainage money on the project.
— Approved an agreement with Midwest Engineering Group for the design of a new stormwater lift station at the Corning Avenue railroad underpass for up to $82,200.