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Wichita property tax rate: Unchanged

The City of Wichita property tax mill levy was unchanged for 2018.

Wichita mill levy rates. This table holds only the taxes levied by the City of Wichita and not any overlapping jurisdictions.
In 1994 the City of Wichita mill levy rate — the rate at which property is taxed — was 31.290. In 2018 it was 32.667, based on the city’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report and the Sedgwick County Clerk. That’s an increase of 1.377 mills, or 4.40 percent, since 1994. (These are for taxes levied by the City of Wichita only, and do not include any overlapping jurisdictions.)

The rate for 2018 was unchanged from 2017 and follows two years of small decreases.

Wichita mill levy rates. Click for larger version.
The Wichita City Council does not set the mill levy rate. Instead, the rate is set by the county based on the city’s budgeted spending and the assessed value of taxable property subject to Wichita taxation.

While the city council doesn’t have control over the assessed value of property in its jurisdiction, it does have control over the amount it decides to spend. As can be seen in the chart of changes in the mill levy, the city usually decides to spend more than the previous year’s mill levy generates in taxes. Therefore, tax rates usually rise.

Change in Wichita mill levy rates, year-to-year and cumulative. Click for larger version.
It’s more common for the mill levy to rise rather than to fall. In those years, the council does not take responsibility to the increase, insisting that the rate has not gone up.

An increase of 4.40 percent over more than two decades may not seem like much of an increase. But this is an increase in a rate of taxation, not tax revenue. As property values rise, property tax bills rise, even if the mill levy rate is unchanged.

The total amount of property tax levied is the mill levy rate multiplied by the assessed value of taxable property. This amount has risen, due to these factors:

  • Appreciation in the value of property
  • An increase in the amount of property
  • Spending decisions made by the Wichita City Council

Application of tax revenue has shifted

Wichita mill levy, percent dedicated to debt service. Click for larger version.
The allocation of city property tax revenue has shifted over the years. According to the 2010 City Manager’s Policy Message, page CM-2, “One mill of property tax revenue will be shifted from the Debt Service Fund to the General Fund. In 2011 and 2012, one mill of property tax will be shifted to the General Fund to provide supplemental financing. The shift will last two years, and in 2013, one mill will be shifted back to the Debt Service Fund. The additional millage will provide a combined $5 million for economic development opportunities.”

in 2018 the city budget held this regarding the debt service fund: “In both 2013 and 2014, 0.5 mills were shifted back to the Debt Service Fund.”

Taxes a homeowner pays

Following, a chart and table showing the taxes paid to the City of Wichita for a hypothetical home. This includes changes in the value of the home (based on U.S. Federal Housing Finance Agency, All-Transactions House Price Index for Wichita, KS (MSA) [ATNHPIUS48620Q]) and inflation (based on Consumer Price Index Series II: CUUR0000SA0, U.S. city average, All items, Base Period 1982-84=100, Bureau of Labor Statistics). Click for larger versions.

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