Harvey County Commissioners have set the limit for the 2014 budget, and if the proposed budget is approved as presented, county residents will see an approximately 4 mill tax increase next year.
"This will basically set the maximum spending limit for the county," Anthony Swartzendruber, assistant administrator and finance director for the county, said of the action taken Monday by the commission.
Commissioners are scheduled to make a final vote on the 2014 budget on Aug. 12. Under the proposed budget, the county would have the authority to make $21.8 million in expenditures. The tax rate will increase from 31.449 to an estimated 35.636, though the county clerk won't set the actual mill levy until November.
John Waltner, county administrator, said the commission could vote to spend less than the $21.8 million, but they won't be able to spend more.
In 1995, Harvey County's mill levy rate was 33.859 and went up and down for a few years before dropping to 28.181 in 2007.
If the budget is approved, the county's road and bridge department will have an increase in funding from $2.28 million in 2013 to $3.74 million in 2014. Commissioners and staff previously expressed concerns the county wasn't maintaining enough roads each year to keep pace with the demands for repairs. Costs for roadwork also continue to increase, staff reported.
Additionally, commissioners said they were frustrated by the way cuts at the state level were placing more of a burden on local governments.
Commissioner Chip Westfall highlighted a statement in the county's 2014 budget resolution: "The 2013 Kansas State Legislature failed to fulfill its obligations in regard to the statutory funding of demand transfers and, by significantly limiting state revenue sharing payments to counties, has contributed to higher county property tax levies to finance the 2014 Harvey County budget."
"The state isn't paying their fair share," Westfall said.
Commissioner Randy Hague agreed.
"They're not cutting taxes, they're shifting taxes," he said of the state.
The commission will conduct a public hearing on the budget at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 5. Detailed budget information is available at the Harvey County Administration Office or online at www.harveycounty.com.
Commissioners also approved a conditional use permit to operate a business with retail sales of firearms, ammunition and manufacture of ammunition on property located in the A-1 agricultural zoning district.
The property is on South Halstead Road, Halstead. The property will not be used as a firing range and must remain in compliance with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.