The Independence City Council set the 2022 preliminary tax rate at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 21 with a 3.2 percent increase.

That 3.2 percent increase amounts to $96,705 increase over the 2021 budget.

Tje city council unanimously approved the 2022 preliminary general fund budget at $3.43 million with an accompanying maximum levy increase of 3.2 percent.

The city will finalize the budget at its truth-in-taxation meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 7. The levy can be lowered but cannot be raised after the preliminarily tax levy is set.

“We have time to refine our budget between now and the end of the year when we have to certify the actual tax levy and we always do go back and try to look at anything, but what we are establishing tonight is the max tax levy that we will be able to levy against the properties in the city,” Independence city administrator Mark Kaltsas said. “We are able to do that while having a slight decrease in our overall tax rate in the city.”

Despite the proposed increase in the levy, the city’s overall tax rate is projected to decrease from 39.42 percent in 2021 to 38.47 percent in 2022.

Kaltsas told the council that the biggest increase in the budget is in police, fire and emergency services; with the police budget increasing by $134,699 or just over 11 percent. Fire services has reduced by 4.47 percent.

“It makes a large portion of our budget,” Kaltsas said. “The police budget went up this year in an attempt to fund their capital needs. That’s something that has been underfunded over the past couple of years and the city said that needs to be funded so you see an increase in order to do that.”

The budget also reflects the capital road improvement plan the city put in place a few years back, at a cost $100,000.

“We are funding again $100,000 of road improvement, which goes into seal coating and/or drain tiling and working with our roads,” Kaltsas said. “We identified that there was a drastic need to continue to improve our road system in Independence and maintain our roads. We’ve done two major projects over the last seven years and we now got a budget that’s in line with being able to maintain and try sustain those and to try to get the longest life out of those roads.”

The council also approved the preliminary Pioneer Sarah Creek Watershed Management Commission tax levy for the 2022 budget at $64,675.

The Sept. 21 meeting was the first city council meeting in the new meeting room at Independence City Hall and Kaltsas announced that the room will be named the Marvin Johnson Community Room after long time mayor Marvin Johnson.

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