Overland Park’s proposed property tax rate increase drew support from a light turnout at a public hearing Monday night.
Only two residents spoke at the public hearing for the budget, and both were in favor of the 0.96 mill increase that would go for street repair and police.
Another public hearing is scheduled for Aug. 15, before the council takes its final vote.
Council members put the increase in the budget last month. The levy increase would raise about $3.1 million.
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Most of that — about $2.65 million — would help speed up reconstruction on the city’s aging streets. The increased revenue would nearly double the amount of street reconstruction the city could do every year, from one lane mile to two.
City Manager Bill Ebel said some 266 lane miles of the city’s 1,335 total lane miles are at or past their life expectancy of 50 years. Those streets need to be totally rebuilt, rather than just resurfaced, he said. The money will allow the city to keep up with the deterioration of the older streets.
The remainder of the increase would add six more positions in the police department — two dispatchers, one officer, one narcotics detective, a report technician and a records technician. The move is necessary because of the volume of calls the Overland Park police department dispatchers handle, Ebel said.
Besides the property tax increase, the budget also includes a higher stormwater utility fee. The $6 per residence increase will be used to start a curb repair and replacement program allowing the city to replace about 5.5 miles of curb each year.
The 2017 mill levy would increase from 12.848 mills to 13.808.
The city’s total budget is $278.6 million, but that includes reserves of about 30 percent and other non-operating expenses. The operating budget is about $123.3 million. A mill equals $1 of tax per each $1,000 of taxable value.
The increases in the tax rate and the stormwater fee would add about $37.50 to the property tax bill on a home appraised at $285,000, an 8.41 percent increase.
Both residents who spoke at the hearing lauded the council for its efforts to remain efficient and fix infrastructure.
Also at the meeting, the council heard a plea from the son-in-law of a resident at Village Shalom to change its expansion plans because one of the new buildings would block the view of his homebound 87-year-old mother-in-law.
Steven Laster of Olathe spoke on behalf of Miriam Jacobs, who he said spends most of her days looking out onto the greenery from her kitchen window. The expansion will include a three-story building just 40 feet away that would directly block that view, he said.
Jacobs, one of the first residents, chose the sunny corner lot because of the view, he said.
The city planning commission last month approved a Village Shalom proposal for an expansion that would add about 74,400 square feet in several buildings.
“She loves her garden and that’s basically her life,” Laster said.
Aaron March, representing Village Shalom, said the company has tried to help her move to a new unit and has reoriented the building’s layout.
Some city council members sympathized with Jacobs, given her age. But ultimately they said they must follow legal criteria on appropriate land use. The council voted unanimously to approve Village Shalom’s revised preliminary plan.
The council continued a public hearing on the BluHawk development plan that would include a 7,500-seat amateur hockey and special events arena.
The 300-acre development near 159th Street and Antioch Road includes retail, apartments and single-family homes, hotels and a hospital. The addition of the arena and a branch of the Hutchinson-based Cosmosphere space museum are included as a way to draw tourism to the area, but the arena has opposition from some neighbors.
The council will take up the matter again, with opportunities for more public comment, at its meeting Aug. 15.