Humboldt council looks at tax hike



August 4, 2015 - 12:00 AM

HUMBOLDT — Though couched in a bit of reluctance, Humboldt council members Monday evening approved for publication a 2016 budget that includes a levy increase of 2 mills, compared to this year.
Saying she was concerned about raising the levy, with fear it would be a deterrent for people who might consider moving to Humboldt, Vada Aikins allowed, “but we have to keep the town up and going.” She encouraged City Administrator Cole Herder to “try to hold expenses to less than is budgeted, so we can put money in reserves, which we desperately need to do.”
Herder said he visited regularly with department heads about keeping expenses to a minimum and had put some upgrades in an elective category, even held off on some.
The levy stands at 85.519 mills, exactly 2 more than 2015’s. A public hearing will be Aug. 17 at 7 p.m. in city hall. The budget’s projected expenses and levy could be altered then.
Herder did the math to show what the increase meant to typical homeowners. The 2 additional mills will increase annual taxes going Humboldt’s way for owner of a $100,000 home by $23 to $983.47; for a $50,000 the increase will be $11.50 to $491.73.
The additional 2 mills were included to help build reserves for water tower maintenance. That fund contains $51,975; 2 mills would add $14,380, based on the city’s assessed valuation of just under $7.2 million.
A burden the budget bears is repayment of bonds, loans and lease purchase agreements that built up over the years when council members deemed annual revenue insufficient to deal with a variety of needs.
Going into 2016, Humboldt’s indebtedness will be $3,668,896, or just a smidgen less than 2016’s projected expenditures of $3,685,713.
“I don’t want to borrow any more money,” Herder said, and bemoaned the realities of indebtedness, including one loan with an annual payment of $11,000 with $4,000 going to principal and $7,000 to interest. Annual debt service is $346,200, with much of it to do with utilities and with revenue to meet obligations coming from those sources.
Of next year’s total expenditures of $3.68 million, $1.22 million will be for general operations of the city, most of the remainder is found in utility funds.

IN THE ONLY other business council members agreed to have Mayer Specialty Services do video inspection of sewer lines. Cost will be $127,257, which is part of an extensive $200,000 review of the city’s sewer system that will lead to maintenance and upgrades.
BG Consultants, Inc., Emporia, is overseeing the project, made possible by a low-interest loan from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment that will be repaid from Sewer Department revenue.
The meeting was called specifically to discuss the budget and sewer work, meaning no other topic could have been brought before the council. None was.

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