Wyandotte Co. cuts services, raises tax rate

Wyandotte County's Board of Commissioners has approved a 2011 budget that includes a 4.5 percent property tax rate increase and deep cuts to several programs.

The approval came after weeks of public discussion and, at times, anger from some commissioners who feared how the county's poorest residents would fare with fewer city services to depend on.

The cuts affect programs like Meals on Wheels, county extension, the local mental health agency, transit routes, drug and alcohol programs and services for people with developmental disabilities.

It is the first time commissioners have approved a property tax rate increase since 2002. Unified Government officials said that given the drop in assessed valuation, the average homeowner should not experience a tax increase on the county's portion of the tax bill.

Regardless, residents are likely to see budget cuts. Nearly every department's budget will experience a 20 percent cut in funding. Though some programs were spared, services will still be diminished given that the Unified Government cut those programs by 10 percent last year.

Commissioner Ann Brandau-Murguia cast the only vote against the budget Thursday, saying she wanted to avoid a property tax increase to help residents who are struggling because of the economy.

The cuts will help the Unified Government cope with a 14 percent drop in assessed valuations since 2009.