Archive for Thursday, August 31, 2000

Revenue chief defends new sales tax system

Cities, counties may have miscalculated revenue forecasts, Pierce tells lawmakers

August 31, 2000


— A new sales tax system isn't to blame for complaints that cities and counties aren't getting enough revenues from such taxes, Revenue Secretary Karla Pierce told legislators Wednesday.

Pierce told the Legislative Post Audit Committee that there has been much confusion about the new system, which the Department of Revenue put in place in November. It includes new computers.

From November through January, the department distributed local sales tax revenues to cities and counties based on estimates, which resulted in overpayments of $13 million.

The Department of Revenue reduced payments to local governments in April and July to make up the difference.

Pierce said some cities and counties are receiving more revenue under the new system.

"I'm confident we're giving them what the taxpayers are telling us to give them," Pierce said. "We don't have buckets of money up here. They're getting their money."

Pierce said local governments may have set their revenue forecasts too high. She also said tax cuts might have hurt their revenues.

But Sen. Pat Ranson remained skeptical, noting that several cities and counties -- including Lawrence -- have complained that their revenues have dropped since the new system was put in place.

"It's evidently going down in the major counties of the state," said Ranson, R-Wichita. She also said Sedgwick County was considering going to court over the matter.

Early this month, Lawrence finance officials questioned an apparent discrepancy between Douglas County and Lawrence sales tax receipts.

In Salina, officials wondered why receipts remained flat despite a booming economy. They asked for an investigation.

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