Gardner has every reason be very pleased with the current City Council. A recent report from KansasOpenGov.org indicates that the citizens in several municipalities in Kansas are upset with property tax hikes. On average property taxes rose an average of 2.6 faster than the combined rates of inflation and population between 1997 and 2016.
A property tax lid passed last year will allow Kansans to begin voting later this year on whether, with some exceptions, city and county property taxes should increase by more than the rate of inflation. Citizens overwhelming support the right to vote but local government doesn’t want citizens meddling in their business. Cities and counties are asking legislators to strip citizens of their right to vote for (or against) mill levy increases in the current legislative session, and some are threatening residents with service cuts if they don’t get their way.
The picture in Gardner is entirely different. In 2008 the mill levy was 24.11, not much higher than 2003. The following year it shot up to 31.12, in large part due to a difficult economic climate. It stayed at that level, however, for the next 5 years until a big change came in the City Council in the 2014 election. The new crew taking office in 2015 immediately went to work looking at spending. The mill levy in 2015 was still at the 29.46 level, but things quickly changed. The report from the Kansas Dept. of Revenue shows a whopping drop of almost 9 points to 20.54 mill levy. That’s over a 30% reduction.
The Gardner City Council should be applauded for their “every dollar counts” attitude.