A Douglas County man who is seeking a U.S. Senate seat sounded out the Douglas County Commission on Monday for opinions on three issues involving state and county government.
Richard Rodewald, a Republican who is challenging for the seat now held by Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., told the commission he was waging a one-man lobbying effort in Topeka on behalf of taxpayers.
Rodewald, who farms near Baldwin in southeastern Douglas County, said he planned to recommend to the Kansas Legislature that the county appraiser become a state employee, that community colleges be placed in the Kansas Board of Regents system and that a local option for county income tax be placed on the ballot.
CITING Kansas Atty. Gen. Robert Stephan's concerns about the constitutionality of current property appraisal methods, Rodewald said only seven Kansas counties were in compliance with the state's reappraisal guidelines. Douglas County is not one of those counties, he said.
His solution is to make county appraisers a state position.
"That's the only way we're going to get fair and equal taxation across the state," Rodewald said.
The Legislature will consider a couple of measures that would put county appraisal efforts under various degrees of state control.
Commissioners and County Administrator Chris McKenzie were cool to the idea. They pointed to potential problems with the proposed arrangement.
"WE COULD have a state official . . . improperly supervising those (county) employees, and then the county commission gets sued for the acts of a state official," McKenzie said.
Commissioner Louie McElhaney mentioned the administrative problems of the county paying the appraiser's salary, which would be set by the state, along with different holiday schedules.
The commission was receptive to Rodewald's idea of placing community colleges in the Regents system. This action would relieve counties' burden for paying out-district tuition to community colleges, which state law requires when a resident from one county attends a two-year school in another county. Commissioners are frustrated that they have no control over the out-district expense, which is expected to run about $500,000 this year.
THE COMMISSION expressed indifference with a possible county income tax referendum. Rodewald linked the referendum to the county being home to Kansas University, Haskell Indian Junior College and Baker University. None of the three schools pay property taxes on their land and buildings, he said.
In other business Monday, the commission:
Received the quarterly Community Corrections update from director Mark Matese. Through conservative expenditures, he said, the department has $213,192 remaining in its $323,759 budget, or 65.8 percent, halfway through its fiscal year.
Approved a lease with CinCom Relational Database and VSAM Query software from CinCom Systems for a three-year term renewable for another three years. The new database and software will reduce duplicate data on the county's mainframe computer. The lease will cost $774 a month, which will include updates at no extra cost.
Approved a request by the city of Lawrence to review annexing certain property owned by Marsha and Ray Goff to the city of Lawrence. The Goffs wanted their property just southwest of the 31st and Iowa intersection annexed to the city for water service after their well ran dry. The Lawrence City Commission approved the request a week ago.