By Carlee Edwards
As the Lake Lotawana board of Aldermen begins to plan out the budget for 2015, it was brought up at the work session on August, 5 that due to the possible reduction or elimination of some of the building permit fees, the General Fund revenue could be reduced by approximately $25,000.
Discussion followed on different priorities of the Board and changes they all wished to see. They discussed exactly where the funds needed to be spent, where they hoped it could be spent, and where funds might need to be reduced. It was also discussed how the lack of funds would affect the city and where extra funds could come from.
Such things as new building projects and the possible addition of a Planning and Zoning Administrator position were discussed as the budget for next year will undoubtedly be tighter.
“Maybe we just don’t purchase a new police car next year,” Mayor Welsh commented.
It was decided that options to increase next year’s revenues are limited to increasing tax revenues by either a mil levy (property tax) increase or by increasing economic development that would lead to an increase in sales and property taxes.
“We haven’t increased the mil levy since 2009,” Mayor Welsh said. He went on to explain that with the value of homes in Lake Lotawana raising the mil levy from .23 to .46 would bring in a $160,000 increase to the 2015 revenue.
However, the raising of the mil levy has to be done by a public vote, as would the increasing of economic development to gain more sales and property taxes.
Alderwoman Rita Aholt brought up the concern that raising the mil levy would require more taxes on some residence than it would others. With some houses holding a higher value on record than they currently are in this market and other having been renovated since their last appraisal.
“Could we hire someone to review the cost of houses in Lake Lotawana?” Alderwoman Aholt requested. “There’s a process we need to follow to make sure that the house that has been built that’s much more valuable than the house that was there before is actually being taxed the right rate.”
“It’s a lot of work and I don’t know if there are people who actually do that,” Alderman Falkenberg said.
Alderwoman Aholt assured him that “There is.”
Discussion followed as to how this task could be taken on and what would constitute a house being reappraised.
“It works when everyone pays their fair share,” Alderwoman Aholt said. “We shouldn’t have someone pay more for a mil levy because someone else isn’t paying their fair share.”
The issue did not come to a final decision but will be brought up again at the August regular session.
There was no discussion of using surplus funds, available for the last two years (and was the funding source for the new city garage) to cover the possible shortfall.