Hugoton — More than a dozen western Kansas counties are struggling to balance their budgets after natural gas prices have plummeted by more than half in the past two years.
One of the hardest-hit counties is Stevens, which gets 81 percent of its revenues from taxes on gas and oil reserves. The valuations of those reserves dropped by more than $140 million, or 34 percent, in the past year.
The Hutchinson News reports the decline has caused the county to increase its property tax levy by more than 15 percent, and the school district to raise its by 30 percent.
Several of the counties say they are fortunate that they beefed up their reserves during times of record high gas prices to offset what they are losing now.