Westwood’s budget for 2015 shows positive trends on several fronts, including a six percent increase in the assessed valuation in the city. The assessed value in the city has had a major impact over the budgets and taxes for well more than a decade, starting with the exit of Sprint headquarters from its building along Shawnee Mission Parkway.
As late as 2001, Westwood had an assessed valuation of nearly $39 million and tax rates close to 8 mills. As the multi-acre Sprint headquarters began emptying of taxable equipment and then eventually was taken over by tax exempt University of Kansas Hospital, the city’s valuation had dropped by more than $15 million, a huge percentage of the total value in a city of Westwood’s size. Then came the recession which dropped property values almost another $3 million during its course. And tax rates had tripled to a high of 25.5 mills before starting a downward trend a few years ago.
The good news in Westwood looking ahead to 2015 is not only that assessed valuation, which was below $21 million last year and is jumping above 22.3 million, is rising post-recession, but that sales tax collections from the Walmart store at 47th and Mission have exceeded expectations and replaced losses from the Apple Market closing. Sales tax collections are budgeted more than $100,000 higher than the 2014 budget.
The start of the Woodside Village development promises to bolster sales tax and assessed valuation even more in the coming years. Construction work began in August and the project includes both retail and residential.
The Westwood tax rate for 2015 will actually drop from 23.676 mills to 22.726 mills. The overall budget increases spending about $100,000 to just under 2.3 million in the general fund. It keeps the storm water fee steady and the fee for trash collection increases only 1.7 percent. Westwood also provides services to Westwood Hills and Mission Woods – and receives reimbursement – which is included in the Westwood budget.