Archive for Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Error makes taxes too high

Superintendent accidentally enters wrong mill levy

December 12, 2007

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An error by the Tonganoxie school superintendent will cost district property owners nearly $370,000 in property taxes.

The money will be reimbursed, but when and how that will take place is being debated.

Superintendent Richard Erickson proposed at Monday's school board meeting to repay taxpayers through lower mill levies the next two years.

However, patrons said Erickson's plan would fall short for some taxpayers.

Teresa Ellis said a lower mill levy the next two years wouldn't necessarily equate to a full reimbursement because a person's house valuation could go up from this year to the next, meaning taxpayers could pay more in taxes the next two years.

"I guess my biggest concern is if the taxes were right, I would like to know what they should have been," Ellis said. "How are you going to provide that?"

Erickson said he noticed his November property tax statement didn't match the district's mill numbers.

The school board approved a budget for publication at its July 9 meeting. The budget published Aug. 1 in The Mirror newspaper called for a levy of 54.696 mills. A mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 in assessed valuation.

But at its Aug. 13 meeting, the board restructured its budget so it could hold the line on the levy. Members actually approved a lower levy - 50.603 mills.

Erickson said he mistakenly submitted the original information to the county.

"As superintendent in USD 464, I accept full responsibility for this error and I apologize to USD 464 taxpayers for the outdated information that was filed with the county clerk, which resulted in incorrect tax statements to taxpayers," Erickson said.

Janet Klasinski, deputy county clerk, said owners of a home valued at $100,000 would pay, on average, an extra $47.72 in taxes because of the error.

Klasinski said the school district had the option of paying refunds to patrons in May, when the second half of property taxes are due. The district would have to pay for sending out refunds, she said. However, Erickson said after Monday's meeting that an official with the Kansas Department of Education on Monday afternoon advised him that only the county could handle tax refunds.

Kansas Department of Education and Leavenworth County offices were closed Tuesday because of inclement weather, so officials there were not available to clear up the discrepancy.

Erickson said he would recommend the board reduce the mill levy to reimburse property owners, rather than issue refunds.

Board member Darlyn Hansen pointed out that the taxes reflected what the board originally approved for its mill levy, but fellow board member Kathy Baragary said that didn't matter.

"That doesn't make it right," Baragary said. "That doesn't change what happened."

Comments

Susan Mangan 7 years, 3 months ago

That is completely unfair to anyone who moves during the next two years, or whenever they plan to lower the levy to offset their mistake. I would demand my money back now. They took too much, they owe a refund...plain and simple. And if the "error" went the other way, taxpayers would be responsible for interest accruing on the underpayment, as well. Nice scam, guys.

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