A local taxpayer lobby has attracted the attention of elected officials.
A Douglas County commissioner says he won't underestimate the clout that a fledgling tax protest group might wield in the 1996 elections.
Commissioner Jim Chappell, who himself will be up for re-election next year, said he has been impressed at the Douglas County Property Owners Assn.'s ability to mobilize its members.
Don Cashatt, co-chair of the organization, said DCPOA has 217 paid members. It was founded last spring to protest the rising property tax burden on homeowners and to urge local governments to cut spending.
``They're more organized than the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, which is the largest political organization in the county; they're more organized than the Democrats or the Republicans,'' Chappell said.
DCPOA has quickly organized members for various projects, most notably to attend meetings of the city and county commissions and local school boards to monitor their expenditures.
``You think the chamber could get 150 people to show up to hand out leaflets?'' Chappell asked. ``The Democrats and Republicans couldn't get 150 people to show up unless the booze and food was really good. Mr. Cashatt can get 150 people to show up at his meeting and he doesn't even serve coffee.''
Last Tuesday night, six members of Douglas County's delegation to the Kansas Legislature appeared at the DCPOA's monthly meeting to answer questions about possible legislative remedies for taxpayers' concerns about high property taxes. The only Douglas County legislator who didn't attend, Rep. Ralph Tanner, R-Baldwin, was hospitalized.
Chappell said other organizations would have difficulty getting that kind of legislative turnout. He speculated that the DCPOA will run its own candidates for local offices, including county commission, and for the Kansas Legislature.
Cashatt said that was indeed a possibility but that the DCPOA was not actively planning anyone's campaign.
``If we feel like we're not getting a proper response from elected officials about keeping our mill levy down when our valuations are going up, we're going to be looking for somebody who will take a run at those offices,'' Cashatt said.