Valuation increase leading to second straight levy decrease? Lyon County working towards that goal

Thanks to a second round of property tax abatements ending for the Westar peak energy plant near Reading, Lyon County residents could enjoy a reduction in their mil levy for a second straight year.

County Clerk Tammy Vopat released the 2014 assessed valuation numbers during Wednesday's Lyon County Commission study meeting.

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Real estate values went up almost $7 million while oil and gas valuation went up $2.8 million. Personal property dropped almost $2 million because the state is changing how it taxes certain watercraft and other items.

This follows a roughly $34 million increase last year when most of the Westar peak energy plant came onto the county tax rolls.

This is good news for county residents and also for county projects. County Commissioner Dan Slater says this gives county budgets some breathing room.

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Commissioner Rollie Martin says county officials were expecting a valuation increase, so now county officials are hoping for another significant cut in the mil levy.

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Last year, commissioners reduced the levy by around 7.5 mils to 56.5. A reduction isn't guaranteed but looks highly likely. The amount of any adjustment will be set over the next two months during the ongoing budget process.

Speaking of that, Vopat and three allocation agency leaders submitted their 2015 budgets for approval. Vopat submitted two budgets -- one for the County Clerk's Office, one for the Elections Office. The Clerk's Office budget is requested at $258,000, up about $4,000 from the current year, while the Elections Office projected budget is at $281,000, up almost $35,000. Part of that is because there could be as many as three mail ballot elections next year, and part of that is Vopat wants to set aside money to replace the current touch-screen voting machines at some point over the next five to 10 years.

Two budget requests for 2015 were held flat. SOS and Hetlinger Developmental Services are both asking for $20,000. SOS Director Connie Cahoone says the money would go for operating expenses.

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Hetlinger Director Trudy Hutchinson:

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The Lyon County Historical Society is asking for $110,000, which is up $10,000 from what commissioners authorized for this year. Director Greg Jordan says the extra money would be used for employee salaries although his salary would remain flat.

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In their action meeting Thursday, commissioners will receive the 2015 Treasurer's Office budget request. They will also discuss county-wide economic development matters.

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