The costs of developing a new business park and purchasing a new emergency radio system increased the mill levy in the proposed 2018 Franklin County budget.
The proposed budget — which was unveiled Wednesday to the Board of Franklin County Commissioners — showed a 1.949 mill levy increase from 62.210 to a proposed 63.159.
Janet Paddock, county clerk, who helped Derek Brown, county administrator, put the budget together, said without those two projects, the mill levy would have decreased 0.72 mills from fiscal year 2017. She said the whole increase was due to bond interest and principal payments for Proximity Park and the proposed new county-wide emergency radio system.
Paddock said the proposed radio system, which will cost about $212,000 in interest and principal payments in 2018, equates to 0.92 mills and the interest, and principal payments from bonds for the business park would be $251,000, which is 1.101 mills. She said those two combined are 2.021 mills. Each mill is $228,583, up from $223,824 last year.
The county commission will have a public hearing on the proposed budget 5:30 p.m. Aug. 10, in the commission chambers at the Franklin County Office Annex, 1418 S. Main St., Ottawa. After the public hearing, the commissioners will adopt the 2018 budget.
Colton Waymire, commission chair, called the proposed 2018 budget, “a responsible budget.” He said each county department made sacrifices to keep the mill levy flat for county operations.
“The fact that the staff has continually worked within the parameters and found efficiencies in other places...it says a lot for their ability to manage the operations of the county,” he said. “The two projects — everybody would agree are worthwhile — are the drivers of the increase. We knew the industrial park and county-wide radio system were big expenses. Obviously that bill was going to come due. I am amazed we were able to stay within our previous [budget], operations-wise.”
Richard Oglesby, county commissioner, said the mill levy increase could not be avoided.
“No one likes to see that increase, but the projects we have on the table, there is not an alternative,” he said.
Brown, who put together the budget for the first time with Paddock, said the process went smoothly, despite several challenges.
“With costs seemingly increasing everywhere, it was a pleasant surprise that we were able to keep everything relatively flat,” he said. “There were numerous obstacles to overcome. The tax lid being the primary one. The other obstacle, that we won’t have in years ahead, is a big project like the radio system. We have to have that relatively ironed out because we have to budget for the cost of that. The radio project is a 10-year lease purchase. If we approve as it is proposed with the warranty, at the end of 10 years, we will have a very good system. It will prevent us from having to redo it all over in a decade.”
Brown said the county’s vision for progress was first and foremost on everybody’s priority list during the budget process.
“It took a good group of elected officials and department heads to buy in to the vision and understand that if we are going to do these projects, we have to keep our operating costs flat,” he said. “Every single one of them understood that. We are fortunate to have an organization to where everybody buys in to the team vision. We asked several departments to make cuts to do that.”
Waymire said this proposed budget was the result of a good working relationship between department heads, elected officials and administration.
“They came to us and asked for what they need — not trying to take the biggest bite out of the apple,” he said. “They put their cards on the table and said ‘this is where I am, this is where our priorities are that we identified.’”
Brown said the business park is an investment for the future.
“We have nothing but positive feedback from our development partners in the Kansas City area,” Brown said. “We have heard over and over, big pieces of land are so hard to find. That makes us a very, very good site. We are optimistic once the infrastructure gets put in there that will be a very marketable site.”