The recent annual meeting of the Kansas Association of Counties was marked by more cooperation than in recent years, a county official said.
Chris McKenzie, Douglas County administrator, said the meeting, held Sunday to Tuesday in Wichita, saw much agreement about what the legislative priorities should be for Kansas' 105 counties.
"There was very little disagreement in our major policy session," he said. "Every year I go it seems like there's better discussion and involvement in helping to develop those priorities."
McKenzie noted three items discussed at the meeting that would have significant impact on Douglas County. These areas were the motor vehicle registration tax, changes in the property tax system and in funding for the juvenile detention facility to be located in Lawrence.
COUNTY TREASURER Nancy Hempen and McKenzie testified Wednesday before a legislative subcommittee about a plan the county is proposing for statewide implementation to deal with motor vehicle registration. The county's plan, McKenzie said, would combine what the Department of Revenue has done on prorating depreciation with a new prorating of the countywide average tax rate to equalize the motor vehicle tax. The state's current registration process was deemed unconstitutional in an opinion from Kansas Atty. Gen. Bob Stephan in August.
The county's plan, McKenzie said, would help ease the loss of approximately $25 million annually in property tax revenue statewide.
"Our plan would reduce that revenue loss by 20 to 30 percent," he said. "There would still be a revenue loss, but it would be less. We've proposed a plan that would phase that revenue loss out over a three-year period."
CONCERNING the juvenile detention facility, McKenzie said the counties are seeking full state funding for the construction and operation of the four new centers, which must be built by 1993. The Lawrence facility will cost an estimated $1.5 million for construction and $500,000 annually to operate.
John Torbert, executive director for the KAC, said the association had not set priorities for its agenda for the 1991 Legislature. The KAC lobbies the Legislature on behalf of county interests.
Torbert added that he was pleased with the meeting, which was attended by more than 1,100 county officials.