Topeka Reacting to allegations that a reappraisal two years ago was flawed, Kansas Atty. Gen. Bob Stephan said he will sue the revenue department to force an equalization of property values across the state.
Stephan said Wednesday that he would draw up a lawsuit within two weeks against Secretary of Revenue Mark V. Beshears and David Cunningham, director of property valuation.
Cunningham said he expected a lawsuit. He said the department had been providing information to Stephan for several months.
Stephan said he would file the lawsuit in part in response to a letter from the Shawnee County legislative delegation and other lawmakers who asserted that the 1989 reappraisal of all property in Kansas was flawed.
APPRAISALS HELP determine how much property owners will have to pay in taxes.
The issue gained importance when a school finance bill passed during the 1992 legislative session set a uniform statewide property tax levy.
For that levy to be uniform, all property must be valued for tax purposes on an equal basis among the counties.
Stephan said the Kansas Supreme Court could decide that enough flaws existed in the appraisal process to warrant another reappraisal. Another option would be to adjust values in a few counties to eliminate wide fluctuations in values of similar properties in different parts of the state.
Stephan said that in a majority of counties, property values in the same class vary from state standards by more than 20 percent, in violation of state law.
THE VARIANCE measures the difference between appraised values and comparable market values that the Legislature has set as reasonable.
Owners of many business properties said their property has been almost uniformly overvalued since the 1989 reappraisal, resulting in higher property tax bills.
The division of property valuation has been auditing counties to check the accuracy of appraisals and the methods used to establish and maintain current valuations of property.
Douglas County Appraiser Marion Johnson declined comment this morning on Stephan's plan to sue and on its potential impact on Douglas County.
"I'm not sure exactly what the AG is saying," he said.
Johnson said his office would continue using existing guidelines to update appraisals assigned to properties two years ago.
"We have to revalue all of our property by January 1 of '93 and until we hear something different from the state, we will continued on that course," he said.