Topeka City officials in Fremont, Neb., have said a property tax increase will be needed to cover the cost of defending its immigration ordinance, which was written by and will be defended by Kris Kobach, the Republican candidate for secretary of state in Kansas.
Kobach is also an attorney who has helped write laws and ordinances in several states and cities, including Fremont, aimed at stopping illegal immigration.
In preparation for the city’s fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1, Fremont’s city administrator recommended budgeting $750,000 for defense of the ordinance. This estimate was developed with input from Kobach, the city said in a news release.
The release states, “The city has re-searched the experiences of other communities defending similar ordinances including Farmers Branch, Texas and Hazleton, Pennsylvania. While Kris Kobach, the attorney representing the City of Fremont, has agreed to represent the city at reduced cost, the city anticipates other substantial costs relating to the lawsuit(s). Excluding plaintiff’s fees, costs have averaged around $800,000 per year in Farmers Branch, and $1,250,000 per year in Hazleton.
“Both cities use Kris Kobach as their attorney, also at reduced costs.”
To come up with the money, the city says it will need to increase the overall property tax rate by about 5.8 mills. That would mean an average tax increase of $116 per year on a $200,000 home. Fremont has about 25,000 people and is about 30 miles northwest of Omaha.
Fremont’s ordinance would require renters to obtain an occupancy license and businesses use the federal E-Verify system. The measure was approved by city voters but is currently held up by two lawsuits in federal court.
The city’s news release also states, “Additional costs the City is planning for include fees to Kris Kobach including travel, lodging, and outside assistance as needed; depositions, document redaction, expert witnesses, and discovery costs; ancillary lawsuits and potential plaintiffs’ fees; and technology, personnel, and other related costs.”
Kobach has been under fire from some of his critics who have said he will spend too much time on litigation in these immigration appeals to be a full-time secretary of state. But Kobach has said he will work on these matters on his own time.
Kobach faces current Secretary of State Chris Biggs, a Democrat, in the November election.