SUMNER COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) — Seven percent. That is how much property taxes are expected to increase in 2024 for Sumner County residents.
On Tuesday, nearly 200 people showed up for the Revenue Neutral Rate and Budget hearing by the Sumner County Commission.
County Commissioners said they’ve never had a meeting quite like Tuesday’s.
The public comment on the increase lasted an hour and a half.
“The county is dying, and the county is going to be dead because of taxation,” said one woman when discussing the property tax increase.
“Nobody that spoke was in favor of an increase in our taxes,” said Wellington resident Terry Nunemaker.
Some want to see changes to the property valuation process after many saw an increase.
The county commission said it doesn’t handle the valuations. The state does.
“It was heartbreaking to hear the different dilemmas that people are in when they’ve been in some of these homes for generations, and there just doesn’t seem to be a cap on how high they can appraise the value of our home,” said Conway Springs resident Silesia Wellbrock.
Others asked for budget cuts, adding the county isn’t seeing economic development.
“That is something that this county is just drastically lacking in. We just don’t have the support,” said Wellington resident and business owner Daniel YoNash.
The 2024 budget process started in May for Sumner County.
“Our department starts sending budgets in for us, and we start looking at them literally line by line item by item and compare it to the last the last three or four years of expenses,” said Sumner County Commission Chairman John Cooney.
Cooney said they did make cuts to the budget this year.
Both the sheriff’s office and the road and bridge department made a quarter of a million in cuts to each of their budgets.
Cooney said three big reasons aren’t helping with an increase of $1.7 million.
“Those things we are faced with settlements from court cases, rising costs in employee benefits, and upgrades to our 911 system. I mean, those are just things that we have to do and have to pay for,” said Cooney.
With a lot of opposition to the increase and the vote to move forward, many left disappointed and frustrated.
“I think it would have been much smarter to have said, ‘We are going to take some time. We are going to deliberate on this. We are going to crunch some numbers on it a little bit more,'” said YoNash.
Some said they plan to push commissioners more to help taxpayers.
Cooney hopes to see more people at the start of the budget process each May.
The official valuation and tax notices will be mailed out in the fall.
Residents will have an opportunity to appeal those by Dec. 20.