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Louisburg Recreation Commission is seeking a one-mill increase for the 2022 tax year as the organization looks to expand programs and improve facilities like this ballfield at Lewis-Young Park.

LOUISBURG — Members of the Louisburg Recreation Commission (LRC) Board and several guest speakers met with the public Tuesday, Oct. 12, regarding the commission’s proposed mill levy increase.

Several questions addressed a proposed quadplex that the recreation commission would like to see built at Lewis-Young Park in the future. Board members also addressed opponents’ description of the levy proposal as a “400 percent” increase.

Other questions concerned the community’s growth projections, and what needs could be served by a quadplex — beyond more fields for baseball and softball use.

LRC Director Diana Moore said a quadplex would not only be used for sports but as an event center for concerts, outdoor movies, gatherings and other activities.

“It would be a community multi-event quadplex,” Moore said. “There are so many different things we could do with this.”

About 50 people attended the meeting at Fox Hall in downtown Louisburg.

Creation of the recreation commission was approved in the 2016 election, and LRC has been operating with a one-mill budget since it started in February 2018.

“We’ve been at this mill rate for almost four years, and I think it’s time to move to the next level,” Moore said.

The LRC has put a question on the Nov. 2 general election ballot that will ask voters to remove the one-mill cap and levy two mills for the 2022 tax year.

One mill currently generates $149,747 for LRC, Moore said in a recent interview. She said the one-mill increase would cost a property owner who owns a $200,000 home $23 more per year in property taxes.

The city of Louisburg and Louisburg USD 416, as the local taxing entities, passed resolutions that allowed LRC to put the mill question on the ballot.

A proposed site at the park for the quadplex would be located directly across from Powell Observatory where the former high school soccer field was located, Moore said in a previous interview.

The 2020 U.S. Census lists Louisburg’s population at 4,969, which represents a 15.6 percent growth since the 2010 census. Asked to address the expected growth of the area, City Administrator Nathan Law speculated that most of that growth has occurred in the last few years after the economy started to rebound.

Speakers talked about improvements that need to be made at the park’s current fields. One of LRC’s goals is for kids to stay and play in Miami County rather than join travel teams in the Kansas City metro area.

Moore and board members also talked about providing quality programs for all ages and abilities that allow for the development of physical and social skills.

“I believe they have outgrown where they are at currently,” local business owner Kevin Vohs said of the Lewis-Young Park facilities. “I grew up here. I played on those ballfields out at Lewis-Young. … The actual complex itself, man they could really use some help.”

He noted recreation commissions in other area communities are operating with larger mill levies.

“Compared to other towns, we’re way behind,” he said.

Speakers thought a new quadplex could be an amenity that helps draw more families to town as a quality-of-life enhancement. They said the quadplex could generate revenue as a satellite tournament site for larger tournaments in Overland Park and elsewhere in the metro. Satellite tournaments would generate direct revenue through rental of the fields and indirect revenue for the money tournament teams would spend at shops, restaurants and convenience stores in the community, speakers and board members said.

Jeff Worthington, a former baseball player and assistant coach at Louisburg High School, said Louisburg is at a real disadvantage with its dirt infields. Anderson County is the only other team on the Wildcats’ baseball schedule that has dirt infields. The rest either have grass or turf infields.

“Our biggest rival, Paola, has a quadplex with two baseball fields and two softball fields, all made with turf infields,” he said.

The state recently came out with new enrollment numbers that show Louisburg High School now has a larger student population than Paola High School by about 40 students.

“Yet we are still way behind them when it comes to baseball facilities,” Worthington said.

Language in the ballot question notes LRC would have the ability to raise the mill by a maximum of one mill per year until it reaches a  four mills, in accordance with state statute.

Going from one mill to two mills does not constitute a 400 percent tax increase, LRC board members emphasized at a public meeting, in reference to some yard signs placed around town that claim LRC is asking for a 400 percent tax increase.

“Again, I want to reiterate that this question is not to go to four mills,” LRC Board Chairman Brock Elliott said. “This question is to release us from a cap to go from one to two mills.

“That’s all we’re talking about right now. Everything else is theoretical,” he said. “A quadplex would be nice, but the fact of the matter is we’re talking about going from one to two. Until we do that, we can’t have a serious conversation about doing these other things.”

Elliott said the board has no plans at this time to raise the mill levy above the proposed two mills.

“Myself, and the people on this board, aren’t going to run up mills just for the heck of it,” Elliott said. “There’s going to be a plan involved. If we get our cap moved and two mills is enough for the next five years, then two mills is enough for the next five years.”

About 500 kids have signed up for LRC’s fall programs, an increase of 100 participants compared to last fall.

“This is the largest we’ve had,” Moore said. “Each year, our numbers are rising.”

The proposed mill levy increase is not focused solely on the quadplex, board members said, emphasizing the need to maintain and expand quality programs.

“I want to see LRC grow, I want to see the community grow,” Board member Bradey Ewy said. “I have a desire for Louisburg to be the gem of Miami County. ... The quadplex is an important step in that, in my opinion, but it’s not the only (step). We’ve outgrown or coming close to outgrowing the facilities that we have, whether that be for soccer, whether that be for baseball, whether that be for flag football, tackle football, whatever it is. It’s time to grow.”

News Editor Doug Carder can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or doug.carder@miconews.com.

(1) comment

Elembytes

Just because other communities do something does NOT mean EVERYONE MUST do the same thing. Miami County is the second highest taxed County 2nd to Wyandotte County, KS. JOCO is 3rd. There is no reason for this. Some people are on fixed incomes, some people are trying to make ends meet and keep their farmland and their family heritage alive. We already see what the current Fed Government is doing to ALL of us and leaving less of our income for discretionary spending. Gas and Diesel have gone through the roof in just 10 months. Sorry, but we cannot afford higher and higher mill levy's for non-essential things. We have roads that need attention we need to be better stewards of what we have. It all adds up folks. Common sense and wisdom instead of pipe dreams is what we need to focus on.

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