City commissioners reconsider support to raise mill levy

Tim Hrenchir
Hays Daily News

A suggested rise in the property tax mill levy imposed by the city of Hays, for which the revenue would go specifically to aid economic development and social services, appears to no longer have backing from a majority of the Hays City Commission.

Four members of that five-person body indicated they could support raising the levy at a June 3 work session while one commissioner, Ron Mellick, voiced opposition.

But two of those four, Mayor Sandy Jacobs and Vice Mayor Mason Ruder, retracted their support at the commission's June 10 meeting.

Jacobs said she had solicited input from various Hays residents, who told her they want to adequately fund economic development but oppose raising the mill levy to accomplish that.

Residents also convinced Jacobs that "this is not a good year" to raise the city's levy, she said.

The commission remains in the early stages of discussions aimed at bringing about the approval later this year of a 2022 budget for the city of Hays.

The city's levy is part of a total property tax bill that includes levies for other government entities, including Ellis County and the State of Kansas.

Each year for the past 12, the city of Hays has assessed an annual property tax levy of roughly 25 mills. That amounts to an annual city property tax bill of $575 for the owner of a $200,000 home.

Without taking a vote, commissioners by consensus on June 3 encouraged City Manager Toby Dougherty to provide them a proposed 2022 city budget that would raise the property tax levy the city assesses by 1.5 mills, from 25 to 26.5.

Three-quarters of a mill from the suggested increase would have gone for economic development while three-quarters of a mill would have gone specifically to aid social services.

A rise in the city's property tax levy by 1.5 mills would amount to an additional $34.50 in property taxes for the owner of a $200,000 home.

At the June 3 work session, Jacobs suggested implementing a half-mill increase in the city's levy, with the additional revenue going to aid economic development.

Ruder and Commissioners Shaun Musil and Michael Berges that day supported raising the levy instead by three-quarters of a mill for that purpose.  Berges did not attend the June 3 session but shared his thoughts in a letter, which Jacobs read aloud.