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  • Writer's pictureRoger Sims, Journal Staff

Debt reduction gives Pleasanton taxpayers 'breathing room'

Updated: Oct 6, 2022

PLEASANTON – “It’s nice to have some breathing room.”

That’s how Pleasanton City Administrator Teresa Whitaker described the city’s 2023 budget. Accustomed to finagling to keep taxes in check while paying for essential city services, she found that her job was much easier this year.

The retirement of general obligation bonds for nearly $73,000 along with the expected pay off of about $25,000 in lease-purchase agreements allowed the city to meet the revenue-neutral goal with some room to spare.

With the city’s property valuation rising to more than $7.3 million, up 13.4 percent from $6.725 million the previous year, the city had to cut taxes to meet the revenue-neutral rate prescribed by the Kansas Legislature.

Although there is no penalty for exceeding the revenue-neutral rate, the cities that meet it keep tax dollars essentially the same as they were last year. However, as Whitaker explained to the council, because of the reduction in debt, the city was able to increase its budget while dropping the mill levy from 93.380 mills in 2022 to 85.893 mills for 2023.

A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of assessed property valuation. Kansas has a statewide assessment percentage of 11.5 percent, 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.

At the 2022 tax rate, a house valued at $100,000 would owe about $1,074 in taxes, however, under the proposed 2023 rate, the taxes would be about $964.That does not include school district taxes, county taxes and other property-based taxes.

Whitaker said the council could go higher, but her recommendation was to not exceed the revenue-neutral rate, and the council voted to not exceed that rate. A budget hearing will take place at 6 p.m. on Aug. 29 at City Hall. At that hearing, the council can choose to lower the taxes but cannot increase them.

The council also heard from former city pool lifeguards Haley Foltz and Piper Smith. The two indicated they wished to file a complaint against Whitaker and other lifeguards because of events following the banning of a resident from the pool by the council last month. They complained of being harassed by other lifeguards shortly following the incident, and they also asked that Whitaker no longer be in charge of the pool.

Mayor Mike Frisbie said that he wasn’t sure what the council could do, but told them that if they wanted to pursue it, their complaint needed to be very specific on times and what took place.

The council also learned that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had requested that Pleasanton update its floodplain map. According to Whitaker, there are 16 homes or businesses currently in the floodplain.

She said that, because of changes in elevations listed, West Lake and the school had been added to the floodplain. She asked council members to review the map and notify her of any changes that needed to be made.

At the same time, there were houses that were no longer on the map, and those owners needed to be notified they no longer needed flood insurance. There will be an opportunity for the community to comment on the map later.

Public Works Supervisor Joey Morrisey said the map was developed using a guideline of a 10” rain over a 24-hour period.

The council also voted to sell a mower that was no longer useable to a public works employee for $300, and also voted to give public works employee Taylor Robinson a $1 per hour raise.

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