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Frequently Asked Questions

Below you can find some answers to some of the most commonly asked questions of the City.

This explanation could be very long, however in general, residential property taxes in Riley County are calculated in a fairly simple way. 

There are a couple of key terms you need to understand first before we explain how your property taxes are figured.

  • Mill Levy – This is the tax rate applied to assessed property value.  Expressed in the term Mill.  Simply put 1 Mill is equal to $1 in tax per $1000 of assessed value.  So if the mill levy is 2 mills, then a tax-payer would pay $2 per $1000 of assessed value.  If it were 3 mills, it would be $3 and so on.
  • Taxing Authority – These are entities that are authorized by law to collect mill levies.  Depending on where you live there can 0,1, or many different authorities which all have their own levy.  The City of Riley is one such entity.  If you live in town, you would also get a levy from USD 378 (School District), a levy from Riley County (County), and Riley Cemetery.  It’s important to note that Special Assessments aka “Specials” are not part of mill levy taxation.  You only pay specials if you buy a property in an area where a special is in force.
  • Property Valuation – This calculation is done by the Riley County Treasurer’s office.  The assessed value of your property is for a lack of better words, the average amount of value of comparable properties close to yours, based on recent purchases and sells.  It may shock you to find out when your yearly assessment comes out that your property valuation has gone up by thousands of dollars when you personally haven’t made any improvements to your property.  This happens however because someone or multiple people have sold 1 or more of their properties that are similar to yours (for example, you own a 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom house, and 3 others in the area with the same configuration have sold in the past year at $10,000 more than you paid for your property when you bought it).  It’s best not to think of your property valuation in terms of what your OWN house is worth, but moreso what all the homes like yours are worth.  Also important to note is cosmetic changes in your property like new siding you had installed, or new paint job doesn’t affect your valuation.  On the other hand changes to square footage, bedrooms, etc may.
  • Assessed Value – This is your properties total valuation multiplied by the State assessment rate based on the property type i.e Residential, Commercial, Agriculture, etc.
  • Assessment Rate – This is the percentage of your total valuation that the total mill levy will be applied to.  This rate differs depending on the type of property.  For example the statewide assessment rate for Residential properties is about 11.5%, whereas Commercial properties are assessed at 25%

Now that you know all of this, how does this all come together?

Every year each taxing authority has budget meetings which are open to the public.  After discussion they determine a mill levy that they will assess.  That gets sent to the county treasurer.  Your total property taxes are then determined by multiplying your property valuation by the assessment rate by type, then multiplying by the total mill levy, and finally dividing by 1000.

Example (Mills based on 2022 rates):

You own a residential home valued at $100,000 by the treasurer.  And the following mills are in effect for that year

  • City of Riley – 49.960
  • State Of Kansas – 1.5
  • Riley County – 42.214
  • Rural Fire – 7.627
  • USD 378 – 62.003
  • Madison Twp – 0.712
  • Riley Cemetery – 2.458
  • N.C.K Library – 1.260

The total mills of all taxing authorities who can tax properties in the City of Riley is 167.734 

Doing the simple math.  

$100,000 (home valuation) * 11.5% (residential assessment rate) = $11,500

$11,500 (assessed value) * 167.724 (Total Mill Levy) / 1000 (Mill Divider) =  $1,928.94

This $1,924.94 would be your property tax for the year and your share of the total responsibility to pay for the programs for which the taxes are budgeted.

It’s important to first understand that all public services and features of the city are paid for with taxes.  Without these, there would be no roads, no water and sewer, no parks and pools, libraries, schools,  police, fire,  EMS protection, and all the other wonderful things that we all tend to take for granted.  All of these must be paid for one way or another and property taxation is generally considered the most equitable way.  Even if you only rent you are still paying for these services through your landlord.

That being said, one thing to remember is just because the City of Riley may increase or decrease it’s own Mill Levy, that does not mean that your taxes will necessarily go up or down.  The city has no control over what the treasurer assessed your property value to be.  Also the City may in one year not raise it’s mill levy at all while another taxing authority do.  You may see an overall increase in your taxes and that increase wouldn’t have had anything to do with the city. 

How a municipality determines its budget for an upcoming budget year is primarily determined by a set of state statutes that dictate how and when a taxing authority does so.  While there are some complicated legal mechanisms and terms that go into this, the basic process in Kansas is as follows.

  1.  At some point on or before June 15th of the current year, the County Clerk must calculate what is known as the Revenue Neutral Rate, known going forward as RNR, for each municipality.   This rate is calculated by determining the tax rate in mills that would generate the same property tax revenue in dollars as levied the previous tax year using the current tax year’s total assessed valuation.  As property valuations fluctuate from year to year, the stated mill levy that a municipality sets doesn’t necessarily translate into an increase or decrease in the taxes a citizen is required to pay.  Due to this, the Kansas Legislature came up with the RNR as a means of giving context to the mill levy.  If a municipality exceeds the RNR for an upcoming budget year, that means for certain that taxes assessed will increase for that taxing authority, whereas going below that same RNR number means taxes will decrease. Keeping this mind, once the county clerk has determined this rate, a municipality and its governing body, often working with a certified public accountant firm, will determine what its current budgetary needs are.  If the municipality determines that it needs to set a mill levy above this calculated RNR then it is REQUIRED to have a public hearing concerning this, which is open to the public, where anyone can come and voice their questions and concerns, and/or make public comments.

  2. On or before July 20, the governing body shall notify the county clerk of its proposed intent to exceed the revenue neutral rate and provide the date, time and location of the public hearing and its proposed tax rate.  Once this has been determined the governing body must publish this information in one or more acceptable ways according to statue.  This can include publishing in the official newspaper of the body, and/or on its public website.  This must be done at least 10 days prior to the stated hearing date, which must occur between August 20th and September 20th of the current year.

  3. After holding the RNR hearing, if it is required, the body will hold its tax rate hearing where the final levy will be set by resolution or ordinance requiring a majority vote of the representative body.  It is important to note that whatever rate the body chooses to set as its final levy, may NOT exceed the rate that it published as its proposed rate. However, the body can elect to set any rate lower than its proposed rate.  To this end, it has become common for governing bodies to elect to notify the county clerk that it does intend to exceed RNR, set a proposed mill levy at at the maximum that it believes it will need, and then by the end of the tax rate hearing set the actual rate at either this rate or one lower.  The reason for doing this is to provide the body the maximum amount of flexibility it may need leading up to final vote to set the rate.  Keeping this in mind, just because you may see the published proposed rate at a certain number, that doesn’t necessarily mean that is what the governing body will elect to set, only the maximum that it could.

  4. After the resolution or ordinance comes into effect this is the rate that tax payers of that jurisdiction will begin to pay starting with the new budget year.

One thing that most people really do not like doing is paying taxes, and this is well understood not only by those paying, but by those responsible for setting these taxes (who also generally pay the same taxes).  At the end of the day however, a community relies on these taxes to pay for nearly all of the services it provides such as roads; water and sewer; recreation; police, fire, and EMS protection; etc.  Without these taxes, the ability to provide any or all of these services would not exist.

City Code specifically forbids keeping undomesticated animals within the city limits.  Cattle, goats, sheep, dangerous reptiles, etc, are not allowed. 

However you are allowed to keep up to 8 female chickens in town, provided you have a permit to do so.  Sorry, no roosters are allowed.  You will also be required to keep them properly confined on your property.  

In addition the City also allows the keeping of bees hives in town.  This also requires a permit to be filled with the clerk.  There are a number of different requirements that go along with bee keeping that are specified in the City Code.  

Generally speaking yes, these vehicles are allowed to operate in the city limits.

There are some caveats to this though.

  1. You must have a valid driver’s license to operate the vehicle.
  2. Highway 24 / Kansas Ave that runs East/West through town is a State Highway maintained by KDOT and thus is not covered by city ordinance so you can’t have these vehicles on that road.
  3. All traffic ordinances and signage must be obeyed.  If there is a stop sign, etc, you must follow that the same as if you were in a car/truck.
  4. Certain types of these vehicles have a tendency to cause noise issues.  Be aware that the city does have noise ordinances so if you are operating one of these vehicles and it’s falls outside of those confines it may result in fines for those violations.
  5. Finally, the city has allowed these vehicles for the purpose of convenience of our citizens and to keep the small town feel we’ve all come to know and love.  If these types of vehicles become a problem, the city council may elect at any time to no longer allow them.

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Riley, KS 66531

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