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McPherson Commission Approves to Levy Property Tax Rate Exceeding the Revenue Neutral Rate

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By Lucky Kidd

 

McPHERSON, Kan. — McPherson City Commissioners Tuesday approved a 2024 budget that sets a property tax levy of 53.267 mills, a one mill increase over 2023, which is the first significant increase in at least a decade.

During a public hearing on the budget, Finance Director Daniela Rivas said the city had been able to hold the levy flat for a number of years.

“What this Commission and this city has done is they have managed and ran this city with the resources they had, and it’s been a struggle,” Rivas said.

A key element in the budget is an approximately one mill increase in the levy for the capital improvement fund, which will generate an additional $150,000 a year for future projects. The budget also has a significant increase in the employee benefits fund for public safety employees, which was offset by levy reductions in other areas of the budget including the general fund and the benefits levy for other city employees.

The budget as approved provides for a two percent cost of living raise for city employees. It also assumes increases in insurance costs including a 20% expected hike in property and casualty insurance, and 10% hikes in health insurance and workers compensation premiums.

Prior to the budget hearing, another hearing was held on exceeding the Revenue Neutral Rate. To be revenue neutral, or raise the same dollars in 2024 as was raised in 2023 would have required the levy to be set at 49.626 mills.

Expenses related to the August 5th windstorm were approved by the Commission. Included in that was an estimated $3,900 replacement of two beacons on a school crossing signal on North Main, and removal of damaged branches at Lakeside Park by Treder Tree for $1,800. On this item it was noted a second firm contacted declined to submit a quote saying they were too busy right now and only taking on high risk emergency work.

Commissioners also approved purchase of 85 bags of grass seed and the budgeted replacement of a turf truckster at Turkey Creek Golf Course, a just under $14,000 purchase of items used in the Ultra Violet disinfection system at the McPherson Wastewater treatment plant which is a regular purchase due to the environment it operates in.

Three interns were approved for the McPherson Fire Department during the fall semester. Katelyn Becker, Weston Harris and Zach Reynolds will be working between 9-11 days per month, and will be assigned to a shift during the semester. While they will be attending some calls they will not be used in environments immediately dangerous to life and health. Commissioners also approved a conditional job offer for a police reserve officer starting September 4th.

The Commission authorized use of Memorial Park for the Suicide Prevention and Awareness Walk September 23rd. This free event honors those who have been lost to suicide and brings awareness to local resources for those who may need them. Commissioners also approved payment of invoices for website hosting and maintenance fees and for risk management consulting services. 

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