Overland Park eyes potential mill levy increase to fund new public safety measures

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Monday, Overland Park will host a public hearing to get feedback on the city’s intent to increase the mill levy beyond a revenue neutral rate. 

A revenue neutral rate (RNR) is a tax rate that would generate the same amount of property tax dollars for the city as the previous tax year, using the current tax year’s total assessment valuation. A RNR is expressed in mills. A mill represents one one-thousandth of a dollar. That comes out to about $1 of taxes for every $1,000 a property is valued. 

The proposed 2022 budget for the City of Overland Park includes a 1.0 mill increase from 13.582 mill to 14.582 mill. If the mill rate increase is approved, it would generate nearly $4.5 million in additional revenue for the city. 

In the proposed 2022 budget, the money generated from an increased mill levy is earmarked for public safety improvements. The funding would cover the cost of hiring additional cyber security staff, six additional firefighters, 15 new police officers and the creation of a new Behavioral Health Unit within the Overland Park Police Department (OPD).

Chris Newlin, city councilmember and chair of the Overland Park Mental Health Task Force, said on average the police department receives nearly 10 mental health related calls each day. 

“Every officer in Overland Park from the chief on down will have 40 hours of crisis intervention training,” Newlin said. “These officers are going to get enhanced crisis intervention training. How to deal with crisis issues when it comes to mental health.”

The new unit would consist of 11 officers and roughly six social workers from the Johnson County Mental Health Center acting as co-responders. Newlin said officers will respond to calls in street clothes and be trained specifically on mental health sensitivity and deescalation. 

Newlin said the proposed mill increase would raise property taxes by about $40 per household. 

“This is a minimal increase. Since we have the lowest mill levy by 80% of any city in Johnson County, this increase averages about $40 a household,” Newlin said. “We will continue to have the lowest mill levy in Johnson County by 70%.” 

Once the funding is available, Newlin estimates it will take six months to a year to establish the Behavioral Health Unit and get officers trained to respond to mental health calls. 

The Overland Park City Council is scheduled to vote on the approval of the 2022 budget during the regular council meeting on Monday, Sept. 20.

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