Topeka A bill introduced last week to cut property taxes statewide on all motor vehicles could siphon about $1.22 million from Douglas County's coffers unless the money is replaced in some way.
"It can hurt taxpayers if it's a loss in revenue because somewhere we have to come up with the money," Douglas County Treasurer Nancy Hempen said Tuesday.
Hempen said she planned to closely monitor bills introduced during the 1992 legislative session aimed at reducing motor vehicle taxes.
Sen. Marge Petty, D-Topeka, has introduded a bill that set a statewide 100-mill cap in computing vehicle taxes. A mill is $1 in taxes for each $1,000 in assessed property valuation.
PETTY SAID Tuesday that her measure is attracting support because it would lower vehicle taxes by almost $75 million statewide.
"The bottom line is that 96 counties will benefit from a uniform rate across the state," Petty said. "Right now it doesn't make sense when somebody buys the same car in one county or another that they pay perhaps twice as much or a third as much."
Petty said property taxes would increase in only nine counties as a result of her bill because those counties now are under the 100-mill cap. The bill would have no effect on the remaining 20 counties, she said.
Petty's proposal for a 100-mill cap would reduce vehicle property taxes in Douglas County, which are now taxed at 120.931 mills.
Darlene Hill, Douglas County's budget director, said cutting 20.931 mills from this year's property taxes would result in a $1.22 million loss to the county.
PETTY SAID Tuesday that counties that lose revenue as a result of her bill could recapture those losses in three ways.
"All the taxing units need to look at tightening their budgets," Petty said.
Second, the Kansas Legislature should look at the rules, regulations and programs the state hands down to cities and counties, but does not fund, Petty said.
Chris McKenzie, Douglas County administrator, said today that some of those unfunded mandates are costly.
For example, the county's budget is about $500,000 for community college "out-district" tuition. That mandate requires the county to pay community colleges $24 per credit hour for every class a county resident takes at those colleges.
Petty's third option to replace the lost vehicle property tax would be to allow county voters to approve a one-fourth cent sales tax.
COUNTIES currently can raise sales taxes, with voter approval, in one-half cent increments.
McKenzie said a one-fourth cent countywide sales tax would raise about $1.375 million in Douglas County. Douglas County does not now have a county sales tax, but the Kansas University Institute for Public Policy and Business Research estimated in 1990 that a 1 percent sales tax would raise $5.5 million, McKenzie said.
Petty said her bill's goal is to reduce property taxes paid by county residents.
"If they prefer to have it replaced with sales tax, they've got the option of saying that," she said. "If they don't want to pay an additional sales tax, they can say no and local governments are responsible for reducing their budgets."
Petty's bill was sent to the Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee, which hasn't scheduled any hearings yet.