Olathe’s real spending increase is higher than explained

Dave TrabertTax & Spending

The City of Olathe is proposing another big spending increase on pay and benefits, but you’d never know it from media reports.  According to the Kansas City Star, the city is only increasing spending by 4 percent, from $325.8 million to $339.3 million, but that isn’t exactly the case.  Those figures are inflated by fund transfers, which is just money moving from one city fund to another.  Olathe Budget Manager Matthew Randall confirms that city spending is determined by subtracting transfers from reported budget totals.

Olathe 2017 budgetCurrent operating spending is therefore actually increasing by 6.1 percent, capital outlay by 2.8 percent and the overall increase is 4.8 percent.  Personal services, which is employee pay and benefits according to Mr. Randall, is jumping 6.7 percent and is almost 25 percent higher than just three years ago.

The KC Star article mentioned a citizen complaint about property tax increases but it neglected to disclose that real estate taxes are proposed to increase 9 percent next year and total property tax revenue (real estate plus motor vehicle and delinquent tax collections) are expected to increase 9.6 percent.

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