Marion council aims to hold tax mill levy steady for 2018

The Marion City Council is considering no increase in its 2018 budget after hearing from City Administrator Roger Holter at the June 19 meeting.

“We elected, as your staff, to look at the (department) budgets and determine how we could present a budget that did not increase the mill levy and did not increase utilities, at least for the 2018 period,” Holter said.

The recommendation is prompted by the tax changes coming from the Kansas Legislature, and it’s a slight change in philosophy, he said.

“(The state) is trying to fill a $900 million gap, and so each household will be looking at a $400-$500 increase from the state,” he said. “Simply put, the city is trying to buy our citizens a little bit of margin while they are getting accustomed to the tax changes.”

Holter said a couple with a taxable income of $40,000 will pay $215 more a year for income tax. A single person making $35,000 will pay $227 more, and a married couple making more than $80,000 will pay $565.

“Another change is in the low-income provision,” he said. “In the past, taxpayers with $12,500 or less in earnings didn’t file a return, but it’s been modified to $5,000 and anything over that must file.”

The tax bill also repeals a tax exemption for non-wage business income that comes from pass-through business entities, such as the limited liability company, Holter said.

“Owners of the business LLCs would no longer be able to collect the profits of their businesses tax-free,” he said.

In the area of childcare, Holter said the child and dependent care tax credit, eliminated in the 2012 tax cuts, would be brought back. Taxpayers could claim 12.5 percent of the allowable federal amount in tax year 2018, 18.75 percent in 2019 and 25 percent in 2020 and after.

Other areas of change included medical expenses and mortgage interest rates, he said.

Under the new tax lid in law, the city could have increased its levy by $34,900 above last year’s expenditures, he said.

“The city of Marion’s property valuation slipped a little coming in at $9.946 million,” Holter said. “Last year’s valuation was at $10.036 million. The dollar amount and mill levy being proposed will be $706,974 ad valorem tax or a mill rate of 71.081, which is a slight reduction in last year’s mill rate of 71.086.

“Our taxpayers are going to have household finances shifted dramatically because of these additional taxes from the state,” he said.

Councilor Jerry Kline said the valuation worried him, but maybe the city can get it back on the utilities.

Other business

In other business, the council:

• recognized the Chinga­wassa Days committee its work and dedication shown at the 21st annual festival. Mayor Todd Heitschmidt said the festival benefits the city financially and promotes social growth in the community.

The committee members are Clayton Garnica, Misty Hett, Margo Yates, Dave Crofoot, Davey Hett, Jeff Richmond, Jenna Brunner, Brent Cleeton, Matt Powers, Kodi Panzer, Jenna Meyer­hof, Emma Tajchman, Adam Heerey and Lisa Hemphill.

• heard from Pamela Varenhorst, Marion Historical Museum president, about a budget request in 2018. Varenhorst said they are asking for $12,600 to include purchasing a car. Holter said he thinks there is some flexibility for this, if the council decides to approve it.

• approved EBH invoice for Streetscapes project and Marion/Hillsboro water project.

• heard from Holter about the Kansas Amuse­ment Ride Act. The only thing locally that would be affected is the water slide at the Sports and Aquatic Center.

“It will need to be certified on a regular basis,” he said. “Bounce houses under this new law will need to be registered and certified, but enforcement is not clear in the bill.”

For permanent amusement rides beginning in January 2018, the cost is $500, and $250 for temporary rides plus a $50 annual inspection, he said.

• heard from Police Chief Tyler Mermis about money that’s been saved up from seizures, forfeitures and inspection funds for out-of-state vehicle VIN checks. Mermis said his department is looking at buying a Tahoe.

“All the equipment in the Impala will transfer, and the cage will still fit into it,” he said. The Tahoe came from the FBI, Mermis said, and it was a supervisor’s car.

Holter said there are enough funds to cover the fence commitment at the law enforcement building, security and buying this car.

Money from VIN inspections totaled $8,895, with 502 inspected in 2016. In addition to Marion County inspections, Mermis said Harvey, Dickinson and Sedgwick counties use the city’s VIN service.