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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Sims, Journal staff

County to meet revenue-neutral rate; jail income outpaces expectations

Income from housing out-of-county prisoners at the Linn County Jail more than doubled the budgeted income for 2023. (Journal file photo)

By Charlene Sims,

MOUND CITY – Income from holding out-of-county prisoners – mainly for Wyandotte County and the U.S. Marshal’s Service – at the recently completed Justice Center will greatly outpace expected revenue anticipated in the 2023 budget. That budget was approved by the Linn County Commission nearly 16 months ago.

Commissioner Jim Johnson asked Lamb if the county had met the revenue-neutral rate. Lamb explained that the commission had given notice that the county might exceed the revenue-neutral rate in order to give Lamb time to get all the figures together.

Lamb reported that the revenue-neutral rate that the county had to meet for the 2024 budget was 40.994 mills and the final rate was 40.992 mills, slightly below the revenue-neutral rate. 

Lamb pointed out that the county had stayed below the revenue-neutral rate for the last three years. He said that the county had a slight value increase, which allowed it to get the levy down to 40.992 mills.

He said that was a reduction in the county’s levy from the prior year. In the budget that the county is operating under now for 2023, the mill levy was 42.581 mills and in 2022 it was 47.848 mills.

A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of assessed property valuation. Kansas has a statewide assessment percentage of 11.5% for residences, so a house with an appraised market value of $100,000 would have a tax assessment value of $11,500. If the tax rate on that residence is one mill, the tax levied would be $11.50.

With a levy rate of 40.994 mills, the county taxes on that home would be about $470 annually, however other taxes such as school, city, cemetery, and library district are added to the property owners’ total tax bills.

Lamb said the value increase this year helped drop the levy farther. The appraised value for the county in the 2022 budget was nearly $284.82 million; for the 2023 budget it was $319.98 million; and for the 2024 budget it is $332.37 million.

Johnson also inquired about the status of income from the jail.

Lamb said that when the budget was made for 2023, the jail was not even open yet. He put in the figure of $500,000 income. However, as of Dec. 20, the jail has brought in nearly $1.01 million.

Lamb said that for 2024 the county has budgeted in $900,000 for the jail income.

Johnson asked what the county could do with the extra money. 

Commissioner Jason Hightower said the original bond for the Justice Center could not be paid on until 2030. However, with the newly restructured bonds, the county could start paying back some of it sooner. 

Lamb said that the money goes into the general fund and gives the county more funds to work with. 

Hightower asked if that will help the county maintain a revenue-neutral tax rate next year. 

“At some point I don’t know if we can keep continuing forever,” said Lamb. “It definitely helps when you are bringing in more cash than you planned.”

Johnson asked, “We have an extra $500,000.”

County Counselor Gary Thompson said, “You don’t necessarily have the spending authority to spend it.” 

In other budget matters:

• Learned from Lamb that he had reduced the employee benefit purchase order for health insurance claims from $500,000 to $350,000.

• Also, learned from Lamb that he moved the rural fire transfer to special fire equipment replacement at $250,000. 

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