TOPEKA (KSNT) – The owners of a Topeka coffee shop are relieved after finding out they won’t be paying nearly double in property taxes for sprucing up their building.
Thanks to a manual adjustment by the Shawnee County Appraiser’s Office, the Milk & Honey Coffee Company’s property value was dropped to reduce their tax rate. With KSNT News standing by, owners Darlene Morgan and Chris Hartman opened a letter giving them notice of the change.
“They have adjusted their value to $202,300 … This is amazing. It’s quite the blessing,” Hartman said.
Opening just before the beginning of COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020, the owners of Milk & Honey Coffee Co., located at 2200 SE 29th St., said the shop persisted in the midst of the pandemic thanks to community support.
“Hey, we’re going to do this. You know we’re not afraid, we’re gonna keep going and we got the drive-thru, let’s get ready,” Morgan said. “And we did. People just started coming in.”
The owners also took time and spent money in 2020 to renovate their building property, but didn’t know the impact that would have later down the line. Property records valued the Milk & Honey Coffee Co. building at $151,500 in 2020. When the Shawnee County Appraiser’s Office later inspected the coffee shop and released a new appraisal in 2021, the property value nearly doubled to $279,300.
If Morgan and Hartman sold their building later, they could then ask for a much higher buying price. However, since they said that’s not in their plans whatsoever, they were faced with a new problem.
“I mean we want the value to be given to this whole area, to east Topeka… We don’t have any intentions of selling, and I think that’s why it was so crucial that we appeal this and try and bring these taxes back down because we have no intentions of going anywhere,” Morgan said.
With the much higher property value on record, the owners then discovered how much higher their property taxes would be. In 2020, Morgan said the owners paid $5,996.80 annually in taxes for Milk & Honey Coffee Co. At their property’s new 2021 value, they would have to had to pay $11,176.50 per year.
“My thought was that, ‘Gosh, if this goes up, will we have to raise our prices?’ And I don’t want to do that,” Morgan said. “We are strategically here for a reason … This is for the community. Them doing this is not just for us, but it’s for the community.”
Compared to its 2020 value, property records had Milk & Honey Coffee Co.’s building value raised the next year by $127,800. However, with the appraiser’s office dropping the value evenly by $77,000 – from $279,300 to $202,300 – the owners will pay proportionally less in taxes.
“[The building] sat vacant for four years, and the only people that ever came along and made an offer was us,” Hartman said. “And to think there would be another person out there that would be willing to pay another $100,000 more than we did seems like a bit of a stretch and obviously, they agreed.”
The owners also took a moment to express their gratitude for the adjustment, as well as for everyone who supported them through the issue.
“Thank you Topeka,” Morgan said. “Thank you to our county and everyone who worked on this; [Shawnee County Appraiser] Steve Bauman, Steve Lantz and everyone else in our email exchanges.”