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Assessed valuation drops in Platte City
Meanwhile, city 'doing more with less'

by Ivan Foley
Landmark editor

The assessed valuation of real property within the city limits of Platte City is down for the year 2018 compared to the prior year, says DJ Gehrt, city administrator.

The lower assessed value of property would mean about an $18,000 decrease in property tax revenue if the city’s tax rate remains the same, Gehrt said. He indicated it is possible the city will increase the tax rate slightly, just enough to keep the property tax revenue at the same level as the previous year.

So what cauased the drop in assessed valuation in the city?

“It is likely that the change was related to the sale of several medical facilities (one located in Platte City) which occurred during the past year. Property tax assessments/payments for non profit entities have an impact on overall assessed value. The impact on assessed value often occurs in conjunction with a change in ownership,” Gehrt told The Landmark this week.

The early budget talk came during a public safety subcommittee meeting held last week at City Hall.

“We continue to do more with less,” Gehrt said of city production.

He said the revenues for the 2018-19 budget will be less than for the 2014-15 budget year. “We (the city) continue to be productive with our expenditures. We are continuing to be more productive while keeping our expenses in check.”

The early proposed 2018-19 budget includes about $90,000 to go toward employee pay increases. Of that, one percent would be in an across the board pay hike. The remaining three percent would be in a pool for merit pay increases, Gehrt said.

Public safety (police) continues to be the primary expense coming out of the city’s general fund. Of the $2.3 million planned in general fund expenses, $1.15 million of that is for public safety.

Gehrt said the city’s health insurance premium costs are remaining stable.

One notable decrease in expenditures will be that the city is discontinuing its downtown revitalization effort, under which the city the past few years has offered a pool of money to qualifying properties in residential and downtown areas. That government program is being discontinued though it’s always possible it could come back in some form in the future.

On the revenue side, the overall revenue trend is flat to a slight decrease. While the city remains in strong financial condition and there are no calls for concern, Gehrt in his memo to the board of aldermen remarks that the “flat to declining revenue trend is not sustainable.”

The most significant characteristic of the city’s revenue trend is the continuation of a five year trend of little or no growth in either sales tax revenue or property tax revenue.

A potential road project of traffic light signalization at the Kentucky Avenue/Platte Falls Road intersection will be reviewed in the middle of the 2018-19 budget year, the city administrator notes.

Ending the city’s municipal court and transferring the municipal court function to the Platte County Circuit Court has been a financial plus for the city. Gehrt said the move has resulted in a net gain of $50,000 for the city, primarily due to saving on personnel costs.

“City staff was reduced one full time position (court clerk) , one elected position (municipal court judge) and one part time position (court bailiff). The circuit court now provides court clerk, judge and bailiff functions,” Gehrt said.

The city prosecutor remains a city appointed and funded position.

The city continues to receive 100% of the city court fine revenue although overall city revenue from court is down as the circuit court now retains the "court costs" to help offset costs of judge, court clerk, bailiff, courtroom, courthouse security.

The city's bailiff costs were new in 2016 due to SB 5/SB 572 prohibition on municipal courts using police officers (even off duty officers in civilian clothes) as bailiffs. Prior to 2015-16, officers who were attending court as part of their duties doubled up as bailiffs.