The assessed value of all property in Pottawatomie County jumped a whopping $94.7 million in 2019 — more than four times the average increase over the past eight years.

County clerk Nancy McCarter on Monday presented the July estimates to the county commission.

The assessed (taxable) value of property is the baseline used by local units of government in developing budgets and property tax rates for the coming year.

With an increase in assessed value, a lower property tax levy is required to raise revenue equal to the previous fiscal year. The county commission is expected to receive a proposed FY 2020 budget document early next month, according to Robert Reece, county administrator.

The total assessed value of all property (real estate, utilities, personal property and oil) in 2019 is $672.87 million, an increase of $94.7 million from 2018, according to the estimates.

The 2019 increase is largely attributable to a nearly $77 million jump in the assessed value of utilities, due to the expiration of a 20-year property tax exemption for Jeffrey Energy Center, according to McCarter.

The largest increase in the previous eight years was in 2012, when the county’s assessed value jumped by about $47 million.

The assessed value of real estate increased from about $294 million in 2018, to $313 million this year. That includes about $10 million in new construction. Utilities increased from $278 million to $355 million; personal property, from $5.8 million to $5.2 million; and oil remained static at $11.9 million.

The 2019 assessed values of the county’s major cities are Manhattan, $55 million; Wamego, $44 million; St. Marys, $19 million; St. George, $6.8 million; Westmoreland, $4.3 million; and Onaga, $3.9 million.

In other business Monday:

• The commission agreed to hear a presentation next Monday by BG Consultants regarding application for a federal “Build Grant” for the Belvue Bridge.

Commissioners were at odds whether or not to proceed with the application, estimated to cost around $15,000, due to the July 15 deadline.

Build Grants are very competitive and require extensive planning and engineering, according to Peter Clark, public works director.

“If you want to pursue this, this would be a good time to start for the next round (of applications) next year,” Clark said.

Commission Chairman Travis Altenhofen said he would like to hear BG’s proposal, but didn’t want to spend $15,000 on a grant application “because I don’t think it’s going to go anywhere.”

“We need to do something besides patching,” said Commissioner Pat Weixelman. “Let’s get our foot in the door. If it doesn’t fly, it doesn’t fly.”

Commissioner Dee McKee, present via teleconference, said an application for a Build Grant should also include a proposed Blue River bridge at Marlatt Avenue, providing a second access point to Manhattan from western Pottawatomie County.

“We can’t isolate these projects,” McKee said.

Representatives of Wabaunsee County will also be invited to hear next Monday’s presentation.

• The commission approved an agreement with BG Consultants for design of a fleet maintenance facility for the county — a primary capital improvement project identified earlier by the commission.

Design fee for the facility is an estimated $942,000, or 7.5% of the estimated construction cost of $1.26 million. Estimated total cost of the facility is $1.76 million.

• Chris Trudo, emergency management director, said daily meetings at the county’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at Wamego were discontinued Friday after the threat of flooding subsided.

As of Wednesday morning, the level of Tuttle Creek had dropped to 1,129.03 feet above sea level (about 81.8% of capacity) from a high of 1,135.8 on May 31, according to Trudo. The lake’s maximum capacity is 1,136 feet.

Water release from Tuttle’s stilling basin (“the tubes”) continues to decline and the Kansas River level at Wamego fell to 12.9 feet Monday from 15.5 feet Friday. Flood level of the Kaw at Wamego is 19 feet.

• Scott Schwinn, sanitarian, said the county landfill has seen an $81,000 increase in revenue for the first five months of 2019.

In May, the landfill took in 1,381 tons of transfer waste and 125 tons of construction debris — the highest month since 2007, according to Schwinn.

• The commission received a 2020 budget request of $82,500 from the Pott County Conservation District, the same amount and requested last year.

• Doug Dunafon questioned why he received a notice of delinquent taxes and special assessments on two parcels he hasn’t owned for three years.

Dunafon said he should not be liable for the delinquencies since the parcels were sold to a builder and remain undeveloped.

The commission took the question under advisement.

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