A new proposal in the Kansas legislature, Senate Bill 294, is drawing criticism from the Riley County Commission.
The bill, if approved, would add additional prerequisites to the county budgeting process, which in the commission’s eyes, would add additional costs and even affect how they budget their services.
At Monday’s meeting, County Counselor Clancy Holeman presented a letter of opposition to SB 294 be sent to the Kansas Associations of Counties, listing four different defects of the bill and the negative impacts they would pose to the county.
The first defect relates to new additional costs from the state on the county. These new costs derive from a required new software and new notices. The county clerk’s office would be required to mail out individual notices to every Riley County taxpayer with real property whenever the county “certified tax rate will be exceeded.”
Holeman says the county has approximately 25,000 real property parcels. From their previous experience, the cost of sending out each parcel is around $1.01. This would amount to a $25,250 dollar additional charge to the county, which would also require an additional $15,000 to make programming changes in compliance with the new bill. That would take three months to implement. This would total around $40,250 in new direct costs to the county.
” These new and additional direct costs must be passed onto property taxpayers as a result. We believe it is unreasonable to impose upon Riley County taxpayers the costs of new notices and software development costs,” says Holeman.
The next defect deals with a burden that would be put on every tax entity exceeding the state’s new certified tax rate. The county has 41 different taxing entities within its borders. This means the clerk’s office would have to schedule 41 different public hearings and make sure they do not conflict with each other. Holeman says this will be especially difficult due to the 10 notice requirement for each hearing.
The third defect addressed the budgeting process being already transparent with the public. The commission already holds multiple public hearings about the budget during the entire process. Holeman says the commission tries to keep costs down as much as possible per request of the public.
“There is no good reason to add additional costs to solve a transparency issue that does not exist,” says Holeman.
The letter also states since not very many people attend the public hearings, then they are satisfied with what the commission is doing. Commissioner John Ford wanted Holeman to either omit that line or adjust it. He just isn’t 100% sure this is the exact reason.
The final defects says the state assumes Riley County’s real property appraisals are higher than they should be. Holeman says all county appraised values are developed under the objective oversight of the Kansas Property Valuation Division. Those appraised values must be fixed within objective parameters established by the PVD. The values are then measured by the PVD against market prices of comparable sales within the market.
Holeman says the free market is driving the appraised values of all real property the County and there is no factual basis that the county’s appraisals are higher than the market requires.
Commissioner Ford says this bill is based on a similar law from Utah. Whereas the state wants the same result of that plan, Ford says the funding mechanism for the two states are completely different, as Utah has just 29 counties, compared to the 105 counties in Kansas.
Commission Chairman Marvin Rodriguez says he believes this is in response to the public unhappy with higher taxes. But instead of finding the real solution , Rodriguez says the state is blaming the counties.
Holeman made some quick edits to the letter and brought it back to the commission. They then approved the letter to be sent and then signed it.