Cast Your Vote August 7, 2018
Summer is in full swing. I counted no less than five new homes going up around the Lake. From a sewer system perspective, Mother Nature has been kind, and served up a dry year so far. But we all know that can change in an instant with a five-inch downpour. The City has accepted bids to begin on our road construction projects, and we will soon begin City “budgeting season.” This is the process of laying out the 2019 strategic spending plan.
On August 7, 2018, the City of Lake Lotawana will be asking our citizens on whether to increase our mill levy ceiling to .79 per $100 of assessed property value. According to the City accountant, if your home has an assessed value of $400,000, the increase will be about $290 per year. You can find more information at http://www.Lotawanafuture.com. This is an extremely important consideration for the future of our close-knit community.
How did we get here?
In the early 2000’s the City nearly quadrupled our footprint via a voluntary annexation process. We also asked the public to annex the Barber Quarry area, and we engaged in legal battles with other communities over additional territory. When all was said and done, the City had grown by nearly nine square miles, was responsible for over 12 miles of roads, and had expended a great deal of resources in legal disputes.
By 2007, the City was nearly insolvent, and citizens kept the City afloat via the Campaign for Lotawana: a campaign to pay off a significant amount of City debt. Twice during this turbulent period, the City asked citizens to raise the property tax mill levy, and twice the request was rejected. About nine years ago, on the third request, the citizens approved a mill levy increase to .49 per $100 of value. This set a new cap for the amount of property tax the City could collect. This increase, the Campaign for Lotawana, and extreme financial constraint allowed the City to re-establish financial stability. As we worked to rebuild the City’s fiscal solvency, infrastructure investments were deferred or outright cut.
Last year the Board proposed a shared cost police service agreement that increased our service levels but conceded local police department control. A good portion of our community vehemently expressed the desire to maintain local control, even if our costs increased. In the last nine months since we sunset the shared services idea, the Board and our Police Chief have rebuilt the team, but additional funding is required to improve the team’s tools, training, technology, vehicles, and work space.
Over the last two years, the City, along with significant community involvement, completed a detailed Comprehensive Plan. This plan defines a road map for the next 10, 15, and 25 years for our community. One of the major aspects of community feedback was getting back to our roots, and right sizing the City’s footprint. Accomplishing this mission requires planning, research, cooperation with surrounding communities, and investments to bring infrastructure up to engineering standards.
The City of Lake Lotawana is asking citizens to vote August 7, 2018 on whether to increase our mill levy ceiling to .79. A mill levy is the “tax rate” that is applied to the assessed value of property. According to the City accountant, if the fair market value of your home is $400,000 then the proposed mill levy increase will cost an additional $289.26 per year. If approved, the Board of Aldermen have detailed plans to invest the new funding into our Police department, right sizing our City footprint, and improving our City infrastructure.
To support this request, the City would like to have an open dialogue with the community.
- On July 10, there will be a City Hall Open House. Citizens can tour City Hall, the Police Department, and see our vehicles.
- On July 26, I will be hosting an additional “Coffee with the Mayor” session.
- We also launched the website LotawanaFuture.com. This website presents the plan, and links to all of the supporting engineering, revenue, and infrastructure planning information that is available.
Engage in the discussion!
My personal ask of citizens is to take the time to understand the situation, ask questions, engage in the discussion, talk to your Aldermen, and vote on August 7th.
In the next few weeks, I will provide more details in my Lotawana News articles. The City will also be distributing information via Facebook, the website LotawanaFuture.com, the July 10 Open House, and “Coffee with the Mayor” session on July 26.
If you have any questions, please drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to quickly reply.
Scott Miles, Mayor
City of Lake Lotawana