With tax increase expected, Shawnee County Commission works to finalize budget

Local News

TOPEKA (KSNT) – Shawnee County commissioners are working through a budget proposal that is nearing $120 million. To pay for it, property taxes are expected to increase.

On Monday, leaders started tentatively setting estimations how much departments could expect next year.

“The cost of just about everything has increased,” said Commissioner Aaron Mays.

That means the overall budget is expected to be higher, but how much higher isn’t yet known.

“If we had completely accepted the budget requests from each department and setting aside four million dollars for wage increases, we are looking at a six mill increase. The impact on a $100,000 house is an additional $70 per year,” Commission Chair Kevin Cook said.

Though it likely won’t be that high, county leaders have said a tax increase is necessary.

“Eight years the county has been able to live within the mill levy and I think that we’re looking at every year we have less and less resources and more and more needs. We actually deficit spent last year. We spent more money than we had revenue. We drew down from our reserves,” Cook said.

Now commissioners are going back and forth approving some requests while denying others.

“I don’t think we’re putting government services in jeopardy or anything like that,” Mays said. “I also don’t think we’re spending recklessly. I think we made responsible choices today in my opinion.”

Commissioners still need to make a decision on the budget recommendations for some of the biggest costs, like the Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office and the Parks and Recreation Department. The public will have an opportunity to provide input at a meeting on August 23 at 5:30 p.m. in the commission chambers before numbers are finalized.

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