Tonight, Overland Park Mayor Carl Gerlach and the City Council received the first presentation of the recommended 2022 Budget, which focuses on expanding Overland Park’s mental health resources and staffing the City’s Police and Fire departments.
The $327 million recommended annual budget includes a 6.5% increase in operating expenses over 2021’s adopted operating budget. The City’s operating budget supports daily operations and current services.
The City of Overland Park, like many organizations, is recovering from the pandemic.
Sales taxes and some other revenue sources decreased in 2020.
“With our response to the pandemic, we were able to position the City better going into 2022 than we thought. We must continue to focus on providing essential services,” said City Manager Bill Ebel. “Our financial situation is stable, but enhancing public safety services requires a one mill levy increase.”
Mill levy increase
Ebel recommends a one mill levy increase, which would bring Overland Park’s mill levy from 13.582 to 14.582. Overland Park currently has the lowest mill levy of any Johnson County city and all first-class cities in Kansas. Overland Park’s total mill rate accounts for around 12% of your total property tax bill.
Property tax payments are calculated for residential and commercial property, based on the value of the property. One mill is equal to $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value, and generates about $4.2 million for City programs and services.
The average Overland Park home, worth about $350,000, will pay $587 in taxes to Overland Park in 2022, about $3.35 per month more than in 2021.
Public safety, other City staff additions
This mill levy increase primarily funds several new public safety positions.
In the Police Department, it supports a new 11-member Behavioral Health Unit, as recommended by the Mental Health Task Force and approved by the City Council.
Three full-time mental health co-responders, in addition to Crisis Intervention Team-trained officers and sergeants in the unit, will provide 24/7 response for mental health related emergency calls for service. It also adds detectives, records staff and other support staff for the Police Department.
In the Fire Department, it adds firefighter positions to provide minimum staffing levels, and adds battalion chiefs to provide leadership with the merger with Merriam and the upcoming merger with Johnson County Fire District No. 2, and staffing of the new Fire Station 48, which is set to open in 2022.
The budget also expands staffing at the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens to accommodate needs for the new visitors center. It adds park attendants, including one staff member funded, in part, by a private trust to focus on maintenance at the popular Thompson Park in Downtown Overland Park. The 2022 proposed budget also adds facilities technicians and a staff member focused on communications and public engagement.
Lastly, it supports the Information Technology Department to enhance the City’s cybersecurity operations.
In all, the proposed 2022 Budget adds nearly 74 full time equivalent employees; 26 in the Police Department and 27 in the Fire Department; 22 of the Fire Department personnel are funded by the merger with Johnson County Fire District No. 2.
Continued investment in City facilities, amenities
The proposed 2022 Budget also makes changes to the 2022-2026 Capital Improvements Program and Maintenance Program, a five-year plan to forecast future public improvements and facilities in the city. Updates to the Capital Improvements and Maintenance programs include:
- Bridges over Coffee Creek on 167th Street,
- A police vehicle storage building at Sanders Justice Center, featuring a solar roof,
- Construction of a new Visitor’s Center at the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens,
- Wayfinding signs for Downtown Overland Park,
- Golf course fence replacement at Sykes/Lady Overland Park Golf Club Westlinks,
- Increased funding for annual street maintenance, and more.
The four City Council committees will each review their respective areas of the budget during June and July.
Overland Park residents will have an additional opportunity to weigh in on the proposed budget in 2022. A new state law requires cities to identify if they will accept additional property tax revenue due to growth in assessed valuation, and hold a separate public hearing in August or September.
If the City Council approves the 2022 recommended budget or chooses to capture additional property tax revenue, that public hearing, plus an additional legally-required public hearing on the City budget will take place in September.
Final consideration and a vote on the proposed 2022 Budget is scheduled for September, 20, 2021.