Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Topeka Governing Body OKs Budget Keeping Property Taxes the Same

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Topeka Governing Body OKs Budget Keeping Property Taxes the Same

Article excerpt

Topeka's governing body on Tuesday evening approved a 2017 budget that keeps property taxes at their current level while setting aside funding to double the salaries of council members and the mayor.

Governing body members voted 8-2 to approve a $268 million budget that maintains the levy at this year's level of 39.733 mills. That amounts to $456.96 annually in city property taxes for the owner of a $100,000 home.

Mayor Larry Wolgast and city council members Karen Hiller, Sandra Clear, Tony Emerson, Michelle De La Isla, Brendan Jensen, Elaine Schwartz and Jeff Coen voted in favor of the budget. Council members Sylvia Ortiz and Richard Harmon dissented.

The approved budget includes setting aside funding to enable the city to raise annual salaries for council members to $20,000 from $10,000 and for the mayor to $40,000 from $20,000.

Hiller stressed that Tuesday's vote only provides budget authority to make that move. She said further public discussion will take place before the raises are considered, which Wolgast said should take place in about a month.

The starting point for Tuesday's discussion was a report the council's budget committee of the whole approved July 5 recommending the governing body adopt a revised version of the initial budget proposal put forth in June by city manager Jim Colson.

That proposal also would have kept next year's mill levy at this year's level.

The 2016 "budget night" was the third in a row in which the governing body made no amendments to the budget committee report before approving it.

The approved budget reflects increased revenues that will result from a 5 percent rate hike in city water and wastewater fees that take effect Jan. 1, 2017. They were approved Nov. 18, 2014, by the governing body.

No city jobs will be eliminated under the approved budget, which includes the creation of 13 jobs. …

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