Archive for Monday, January 11, 2016

Kansas to consider tightening limits on local property taxes

January 11, 2016


— Kansas lawmakers will consider a proposal to place new limits on local property taxes during the annual legislative session that opened Monday.

The Republican-controlled Legislature last year enacted a law designed to lessen annual increases in the property tax levies that cities and counties rely heavily upon to finance local services. The restrictions are set to take effect in 2018.

But GOP Sen. Jake LaTurner, of Pittsburg, who pushed for those limits, has a new bill to tighten them and have them take effect in July. The Kansas Association of Realtors said imposing the restrictions earlier is its top legislative priority, and the idea is supported by Americans for Prosperity, the anti-tax group backed by billionaire political donors Charles and David Koch.

"We feel like property taxes have been a problem for a long time," said Luke Bell, a vice president and lobbyist for the real estate group.

Meanwhile, groups representing city and county officials plan to ask legislators to repeal the restrictions before they take effect.

"They have their hands full trying to balance their own budget," said Cindy Green, deputy director and lobbyist for the League of Kansas Municipalities, referring to the state's ongoing financial problems. "Leave us be."

Under the law passed last year, starting in 2018, cities and counties will need voters' approval to spend an increase in property tax revenues above the rate of inflation as measured by the consumer price index. There will be some exceptions, including spending to cover bond payments, finance new infrastructure, improve roads, or pay legal judgments.

If voters don't allow cities and counties to spend the extra revenue, they'll have to drop their property tax levies.

Supporters of the restrictions note that local property tax levies have risen across the state by an average of nearly 8 percent from 2008 through 2014 and by more than 10 percent in rural areas, according to state Department of Revenue figures. Property values also grow, compounding the effect on taxpayers from higher levies, and across the state, they rose on average nearly 5 percent during the same period.

State officials have attempted to limit local property taxes on and off for decades, but legislators repealed the last law limiting them in 1999.

"Giving Kansans a chance to vote before their property taxes are increased is a wonderful idea," House Speaker Ray Merrick, a Stilwell Republican, said in a statement. "From what I've heard from voters, it has widespread taxpayer support."

But many local officials blame the state for increasing pressure on them to boost local property tax levies to cover ongoing costs and maintain services.

The state has slashed aid to local governments and eliminated local property taxes on new business machinery and equipment, shifting the burden to other taxpayers. It also is phasing out a mortgage registration tax in favor of lesser fees to counties from borrowers.

"I get a little tired of hearing about those bad cities and counties who can't keep property taxes under control," said Randall Allen, executive director of the Kansas Association of Counties.

Critics of the property tax restrictions also contend that the state is infringing on the power of locally elected officials to manage local affairs.

Critics also note that legislators didn't face a similar requirement for a public vote when Republicans boosted sales and cigarette taxes last year to avert a state budget deficit. Kansas has struggled to balance its budget since Republican lawmakers cut personal income taxes in 2012 and 2013 at GOP Gov. Sam Brownback's urging in an effort to stimulate the economy.

"It seems like there's a double standard," Allen said.

But LaTurner said submitting budget questions to local voters represents "the ultimate local control."

"Some of the local governments seem to not trust their local voters," LaTurner. "If they have a meaningful project that they need to invest in or a need to increase property taxes, you'll see voters respond to that."


Luke Bell 2 years, 4 months ago

Property taxes in Douglas County have increased nearly 240% over the last 17 years, which is over 14% a year. At the same time, both inflation and personal income increased by just over 2% a year.

This means that the property tax burden in Douglas County has increased about seven times faster than inflation and the income of the average county resident over this time period. No reasonable person could look at these numbers and conclude that the growth of the property tax burden is sustainable for Douglas County residents.

The new law simply gives voters the right to vote when cities and counties attempt to increase the property tax burden over the previous year by more than the rate of inflation. If you agree that the city or county needs more of an increase than inflation, then you have the right to vote for the proposed increase. If you do not agree, then you have the right to vote against the proposed increase.

You already have the right to vote when cities and counties increase sales taxes and when public school districts increase property taxes through bond issues or the local option budget (LOB). Why would anyone oppose giving you the same right to vote on increases in your property tax burden by cities and counties?

This new law simply returns the power to the people on whether their property tax burden will continue to increase by more than the rate of inflation each year. This is the ultimate "local control" as the voters themselves will have a direct say in the growth of the property tax burden.

Cille King 2 years, 4 months ago

"Property taxes in Douglas County have increased nearly 240% over the last 17 years, which is over 14% a year."

Please give a link for this.

Barb Gordon 2 years, 4 months ago

Looks pretty obvious to me from those charts that it represents increased property value and not an increased tax rate. So you're paying more in taxes, but you also have more income potential if you decide to sell the place off.

Carol Bowen 2 years, 4 months ago

Luke, Could you give the link to property tax data?

Dave Trabert 2 years, 4 months ago

The data was obtained from Dept. of Revenue by requesting the information. They don't have it on the state web site.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 2 years, 4 months ago

We have owned our house for 15 years, and we are not paying twice as much for our property tax. What are you talking about?

Luke Bell 2 years, 4 months ago

These numbers look at the total property tax revenues collected by Douglas County. This is not your personal property tax bill.

Cindy Wallace 2 years, 4 months ago

My home value has decreased by about 33% just in the past 4-5 years.....the crash took a while to get to Lawrence. Still, I am paying a few dollars more in property taxes than I was before the decrease. My taxes have increase in the past 9 years by about $300.

Mike Wasikowski 2 years, 4 months ago

Question: how biased is your analysis of property tax growth by the fact that you're a VP for the Kansas Association of Realtors, an organization that this article outright says wants the restrictions implemented in July of this year?

Luke Bell 2 years, 4 months ago

The numbers are provided by the cities and counties themselves in annual reports submitted to the Kansas Department of Revenue. The "analysis" consists of a calculator and a spreadsheet. Pretty simple.

Mike Wasikowski 2 years, 4 months ago

I respectfully disagree with your assertion that the analysis is simple. If analysis were easy, the military wouldn't have spent the greater part of a decade training me to be an analyst for them; they would have just programmed a computer to do my job for me and left me unemployed.

As you noted in an above comment, the numbers you used to develop your increase are aggregates. That destroys a lot of resolution that helps people figure out what caused the change in property tax revenues. Did the mill levies change over the timeframe? Did property values increase or decrease in that timeframe? Did people build more properties and expose themselves to more property taxes? Did people improve their properties in a deliberate attempt to increase the value of the property? Did plots of land get annexed at some point, leading to the property taxes for that land changing and being brought into the aggregate? Did the multiplication factor for a class of property change in that timeframe? Did certain properties get rezoned such that they changed the multiplication factor? Did some properties get a special property tax exemption and drag down the aggregates? Each of these factors (and probably some I didn't mention) has some impact on the aggregate property tax revenue for an area. Some of these factors are good things to see; some of them are bad; others are more ambiguous.

With regards to my specific question about your bias that you glossed over, I think it's important to consider that you are a proponent for the Association of Realtors. Based on your comment that "[P]roperty taxes have been a problem for a long time," it's safe to say that any analysis you would conduct might be framed in a manner to make increases in property taxes look as large as possible. A 240% increase in those seventeen years sounds pretty large to me! But if my property tax bill increased from $1800 to $1900 over that time, I'd say that's a pretty modest increase, and personally one I'd be more than able to pay.

I urge you and the association to look into hiring someone who is versed in the art of analysis. They could help you construct talking points that don't vaguely resemble propaganda.

Carol Bowen 2 years, 4 months ago

Not if they are percents. Numbers large and small convert to the same percents.

Bob Forer 2 years, 4 months ago

Actually, according to the CPI, a dollar 17 years ago is equivalent to $1.46 in today's dollar, which translates to an increase of 46%, and not 34% as you claim.

Luke Bell 2 years, 4 months ago

The inflation rate used is the Consumer Price Index for Midwest Urban Cities. The numbers are correct.

Barb Gordon 2 years, 4 months ago

Wait - walk me through your numbers. I looked up BLS CPI for Midwest Urban Cities, and while BLS doesn't list a total percentage increase over that range, it lists a value of 163 from 17 years ago being now worth 236.736, which is much closer to a 46% increase than it is to 34%.

Kendall Simmons 2 years, 4 months ago

Sorry, Luke, but you're misleading people by using percentages that sound awful but really aren't.

Just to make the math easy: If your property taxes were $1 per $1,000, a 240% increase would mean that your property taxes would now be $2.40 per $1,000.

Suddenly the horror of a 240% tax increase disappears because REAL DOLLAR AMOUNTS come into play. Reminds me of the way that conservatives dismissed concerns about raising sales taxes. "Don't look at the percentages. Look at the minor amount of money involved."

Arin Peters 2 years, 4 months ago

It's not a minor amount of money if your tax bill went from $1000 to $2400. Anyone can add or take away zeros, but the percentages remain the same.

I'm not sure which way I lean on the subject yet, but I don't think the numbers are "misleading". You just have to dive in and figure out what they mean which is something every responsible person should do to determine how they feel about the proposed legislation.

Phillip Chappuie 2 years, 4 months ago

Ultimate local control is always subject to the tyranny of the majority. Beware of what you wish for.

Bob Reinsch 2 years, 4 months ago

Same clown car that complains about federal overreach is now overreaching again.

William Pilgrim 2 years, 4 months ago

Of course, mill levies in Douglas County haven't increased by nearly 240% in the last 17 years. Property values have, along with growth in the real estate market. And property tax collections have reflected that growth, a reflection of a growing, prosperous community. Don't be fooled by the gratuitous use of the word "taxes."

You know who else has benefitted from those increased collections? Realtors. I don't hear Luke Bell calling for a cap on their commission earnings tied to inflation. Plenty of homeowners in Douglas County benefitted from the housing market as well, perhaps their earnings from a sale should have also been capped to the rate of inflation?

Luke Bell hates the free market. He's not asking voters to approve increases in property taxes, he's asking them to approve of growth in the housing market. So long as he and his buddies can continue to collect their commissions, he's sitting pretty. I wonder how Bell would like an annual vote on whether realtors should be allowed a full 6% commission because the real estate market outperformed inflation, as that's precisely what this bill does for our schools and local governments.

Luke Bell 2 years, 4 months ago

It would be difficult for your comment to be any more ill-informed. First, mill levy rates are nearly irrelevant to this discussion. Just because a county does not increase the mill levy rate on property taxes, does not mean the overall property tax burden has not increased on county residents.

If property valuations go up 10% in a county in a given year, why should property tax revenues automatically go up by the exact same 10%? Does this mean that the cost of providing county services to county residents has automatically went up by the same 10% as property valuations?

Why can't counties consider lowering the mill levy rate to reduce the increased property tax burden on county residents? This would give all property owners a property tax break from the increased property tax revenues that are coming into the county through growth.

At the end of the day, this law is really just about giving voters the chance to decide for themselves whether their property tax burden should continue to go up seven times faster than the rate of inflation. Why are you so opposed to giving voters the right to vote on property tax increases? Given the chance, I think they will make intelligent and informed decisions.

Second, whether someone chooses to hire the professional assistance of a REALTOR to buy or sell a home is also irrelevant to this discussion. Commission rates are negotiable and you are not required to hire a real estate professional to sell your home.

Having said that, research shows that homeowners who hire a real estate professional to assist them in the sale of their home end up selling their home for a higher amount and in a shorter amount of time compared to homeowners who attempt to sell their own home. As a result, most homeowners choose to engage the services of a real estate professional to assist them in the home buying and selling process.

Third, you are incorrect and this new law does not apply to public school districts. Voters already have the right to vote when public school districts choose to increase property taxes through a bond issue or an increase in the local option budget (LOB). This law simply takes the same right to vote that voters have when schools increase property taxes and applies the same requirement to cities and counties.

Brett McCabe 2 years, 4 months ago

The hypocrisy of the right knows no bounds. The more they can push control to the local level, the better. Unless local control means that it doesn't fit the agenda - then they didn't really mean what they said about local control.

Counties can lower the mill rates in the next election, if they want. We don't need you to tell us how we can or can't raise taxes in our community.

Luke Bell 2 years, 4 months ago

Voters get to decide whether we "can or can't raise taxes in our community" under this new law. Pretty simple. You can't get more "local" on control than the voters themselves.

Barb Gordon 2 years, 4 months ago

Voters already decide this. You want the state to decide how voters decide.

Kendall Simmons 2 years, 4 months ago

Sorry, but the State of Kansas has been doing its darndest to TAKE AWAY rights from local communities and local citizens.

Have you so easily forgotten when we were threatened with making all LOCAL elections partisan??? Including school boards!!!! Heck, even now, we can't hold elections when we want to.

Kendall Simmons 2 years, 4 months ago

Good grief. Are you misleading people deliberately??? Or just really bad at basic math and logic?

If property valuations go up, the only additional taxes are on that INCREASE.

However! If the mill levy rate is reduced, it's reduced on THE ENTIRE VALUATION.

As a result, your argument about the cost-of-living is meaningless.

By the way, we already have the right to appeal our property's valuation. (I did it once and one.) So it's not like we're defenseless.

Barb Gordon 2 years, 4 months ago

Why choose only one? I'm pretty sure he mixed up his numerator and denominator in at least one of his spreadsheet calculations, and he's certainly making misleading statements elsewhere. So I'm going to go with all of the above.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 2 years, 4 months ago

The state needs to mind it's own business. That's all I have to say.

Chuck Holder 2 years, 4 months ago

Well that will help all the budget short falls.

Larry Tucker 2 years, 4 months ago

The legislation passed last year to limit property taxes is a joke. There are so many exemptions, local governments will shift expenses to those line items to raise taxes needed to fund their budgets. The state continues to supersede local control and seem to know best how to take care of local issues. They can;t even meet their own obligations without raising sales tax, refusing to expand medicaid, cutting education funding and taking money from the highway fund to pay their bills. And don't blame it all on cities and counties for raising property taxes. Much of the blame goes to local school districts who can't provide quality education without adequate state funding. It is time for new leadership in Topeka!!

Brett McCabe 2 years, 4 months ago

The fallacy of right-wing policies makes me think of a conversation on the deck of the Titanic.....The sailor asks, "Captain, we are entering an area where there are reports of icebergs, what should we do?". And the Captain replies "Icebergs in the area? Then we better speed up so we can get by them faster!"

Nothing is working in Kansas, so it's best to double-down on bad ideas while Republicans still have control of pretty much everything, and a weary citizenry that's pretty much given up the fight.

Carol Bowen 2 years, 4 months ago

Luke, What was the property tax revenue in dollars for each of those seventeen years?

Dave Trabert 2 years, 4 months ago

This link lists the annual property tax collections for each county. Tax for cities, schools and other jurisdictions are excluded.

Carol Bowen 2 years, 4 months ago

Thanks, Dave. I'll pop into a spreadsheet and post the results.

William Pilgrim 2 years, 4 months ago

What other limits on free market values do REALTORS support?

If the price of milk or bacon or Luke Bell's favorites wine, cheese, and foie gras goes up, let's have a vote on sales tax revenues. When CEOs (and REALTORS) earnings in 2015 have increased more than the rate of inflation, let's have a vote on whether they should have to pay income taxes on those extra earnings. Darnit, the free market is just so unfair.

Of course, "services" don't cost the same year to year. It costs money to maintain the roads built in front of a $100,000 house that REALTORS sell for a tidy profit and pocket their commission on, and those construction costs go up faster than inflation (as REALTORS are well aware), for example. And it costs money to provide water and sewer service and snow removal, and those costs certainly aren't tied to inflation. Plus it costs money to pay employees and provide them health coverage, costs that increase annually at a rate much higher than inflation.

But free market be damned, let's put an artificial lid on property values. And when taxes have actually been reduced -- because the mill levy has been reduced -- what will cities and counties do when property values decline as they did in the years after the REALTORS' buddies the mortgage bankers killed the economy?

Perhaps Luke Bell could at least stop claiming "taxes" have increased 270%. In this very thread he has admitted his own misleading rhetoric -- "Mill Levies rates are nearly irrelevant to this discussion." Indeed, Mr. Bell, indeed. Mill levy rates, i.e. TAXES, are irrelevant to your attack on the free market.

Luke Bell 2 years, 4 months ago

Personal income growth is actually much lower than the rate of inflation. Property taxes in Douglas County have increased about ten times the rate of wage growth. Yet another argument as to why voters should have a say on the growth of the property tax burden.

Kendall Simmons 2 years, 4 months ago

NO! For crying out loud!

Property taxes in Douglas County have NOT "increased about ten times the rate of wage growth". Indeed, that is an utterly meaningless statement. You're comparing apples to orangutans.

Barb Gordon 2 years, 4 months ago

I'm questioning all your math at this point.

Richard Heckler 2 years, 4 months ago

How about if the state eliminate the use of corporate welfare tax abatements and such. This would encourage developers,builders etc etc etc not to build a project that cannot make money aka stay within their means.

It seems there are plenty of tax deductions on the books for doing business.

Bob Forer 2 years, 4 months ago

All one has to do is look at who is supporting this legislation--The Kansas Association of Realtors Americans for Prosperity, and Charles and David Koch--to conclude that it is all about putting more money into the pockets of the 1 percenters, which means taking money from the rest of us. .

Luke Bell 2 years, 4 months ago

By allowing voters to vote on property taxes? Interesting logic.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 2 years, 4 months ago

As I'm constantly reminded by people we are representative democracy. You vote for the people who supports what you support.

Richard Heckler 2 years, 4 months ago

Placing limits on property taxes is one more step towards defunding and dismantling public education brought to we taxpayers by the masters of deception.

Exposing ALEC's Agenda to Defund and Dismantle Public Education

Luke Bell 2 years, 4 months ago

The law does not apply to public school districts. Only applies to cities and counties.

Richard Heckler 2 years, 4 months ago

Leave the cities,counties and communities to decide on their own property tax issues. Give the city/communities complete authority and remove big state government.

Kansas Is Totally Screwed

cut off the corporate welfare instead.....

Kansas used workers' withholding taxes to bribe AMC Entertainment with a $47 million payment to move its headquarters from downtown Kansas City, Missouri, to a KC suburb on the Kansas side, just 10 miles away. What a ripoff! (((AMC Entertainment has since been sold to Dalian Wanda Group of China. )))

Where is the $47 million tax dollars?

Richard Heckler 2 years, 4 months ago

The law does not apply to public school districts. Only applies to cities and counties..... aka more corporate welfare?

Says who?

Luke Bell 2 years, 4 months ago

The text of the law. You should probably read it.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 2 years, 4 months ago

Law or not. It's up to the citizens of a city or county to decide what they do or do not want. Period. If a little town doesn't want to pay taxes for police and decent streets, then that is there decision. If a town wants to have taxes to support the arts and help out the less fortunate, then that's their decision. If someone is in the minority and doesn't like arts and could care less about the less fortunate, then they can move to the little town with no police or decent roads.

Richard Heckler 2 years, 4 months ago

Kansas was close to the bottom of job growth in the United States for most of 2015. And Kansas collected $11 million less in individual income taxes in the first six months of the current fiscal year through Dec. 31, when compared to the prior year.

And even while Brownback often lauds the state’s unemployment rate of 4 percent as being among the nation’s lowest, that number obscures the fact that the state has added fewer than 10,000 total jobs in the last year.

Still, Kansans should pay plenty of attention to what Brownback does discuss on Tuesday. As his 2015 address last January showed, he can promote priorities that the Republican-dominated Legislature eventually will endorse. Some of those priorities have already proven to be bad for Kansas.

▪ The governor told lawmakers they should “repeal the existing school formula” and over a two-year span give itself “time to write a new modern formula.”

Despite stiff resistance from many educators, the Legislature approved a two-year block grant funding of public schools. A three-judge panel has found that the plan is unconstitutional, a ruling appealed by the state.

▪ Brownback criticized low turnout at spring elections in Kansas and said, “It is time to move local elections to the fall.”

The idea was criticized by some county and city officials, who said the state should not be diving into this kind of local matter. And some critics properly noted that such a move could make local elections more partisan. But the Legislature passed a bill changing city and school board elections to the fall in odd-numbered years.

Not all of the bad ideas in the governor’s speech a year ago made it into law. One would have ramped up politicization of the court system by asking voters to approve direct public elections of state Supreme Court judges.

Instead of proposing that plan again, Brownback ought to focus on the real priorities of Kansans. The top one is to fix the state’s ugly financial mess.


Read more here:

Luke Bell 2 years, 4 months ago

This has nothing to do with the article. Just saying.

Michael Kort 2 years, 4 months ago

How much of this property tax income increase for all of Douglas County, that is supposedly falling onto all property owners alike, is due to the real fact that some land here in Douglas County has been improved by building something on it, that has raised it's taxable value to the county and thusly the counties income from many improved properties, that used to be land with no buildings, etc.. ? Over the last 17 years ? Hello !!!!

Take a piece of land worth a few thousand and put a new $200,000 home on it and now you have what (?) increase in the value of the property for tax purposes ?

Do that times how many new buildings over 17 years, that are taxable improvements to a land property ?

Just saying the obvious !

Dave Trabert 2 years, 4 months ago

True, but government isn't entitled to whatever it can collect. Government sets the value of property and also sets the rate. The mill rate should be reduced so that tax collections deliver necessary revenue, not a windfall.

William Pilgrim 2 years, 4 months ago

"Government sets the value of property..."

There it is, the real reason behind this legislation. Thank you, sir, for letting it slip.

Maybe if we turned property appraisals over to Dave Trabert and the REALTORS?

Dave Trabert 2 years, 4 months ago

Not at all. I'm merely noting that government determines the value and the rate.

Greg Cooper 2 years, 4 months ago

That "government sets the value of property", Mr. Trabert, is pure baloney (or, bologna, for the word police). The value of property is set simply and wholly by those who purchase it, and you know it. The "value" of the property is used by the governmental entity involved in calculating need in its jurisdiction. The rate of taxation is set by the "government" based (in an ideal government) on what the governmental agency needs to fulfil its obligations to and the demands of its citizens.

But, nice attempt at deflection, Dave.

Carol Bowen 2 years, 4 months ago

The government determines the rate. Assessments are based on properties sold. On one of my graphs below, it looks like the rate has been adjusted each time revenue was high. The rate is not always increased.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 2 years, 4 months ago

And you can contest their assessment. The taxes on our house raised from what the previous owners were paying, because the government assessed from what we paid for the house. It went up really high once, but we had recently had it assessed to refinance to a lower rate, so we were able to show them it wasn't worth as much as they said, and they changed it. Try not to leave out detail, Trabert.

Dave Trabert 2 years, 4 months ago

I'm not suggesting that the values are incorrect. The problem is that government is not adjusting the rate downward to generate what is needed...not whatever they want to collect.

Kendall Simmons 2 years, 4 months ago

Dave...Why don't you tell us how much EXTRA money Douglas County has collected? Not additional money, mind you, but extra money that we don't need? Thanks in advance.

Barb Gordon 2 years, 4 months ago

They can adjust the rate downward by decreasing the mill. I remember Johnson County doing that back before the recession. Something I guarantee won't happen if this goes through. On top of that, it will make more sense to find an excuse to raise the mill more often, since you may not be able to raise it when you need it.

Kendall Simmons 2 years, 4 months ago

Oh, by the way, perhaps you could tell us how well adjusting the tax rate down to 0% on all businesses (except C corps) at the State level has worked so far? Seems to me that, so far, a lot of things that are needed are being tossed to the wayside by our current state government.

Oh...and how come we residents of the state didn't get to vote specifically on that tax cut?

Carol Bowen 2 years, 4 months ago

The government does adjust the rate. See the graph below. Every time revenue is high, it's adjusted. Then revenues are low. The average rate change per year is 8%. The lowest rate change is -1%. While the 240% is an accurate calculation, I'm not sure the calculation is meaningful. The most influential factor on property tax that I can think of is the increased value of real estate sold.

William Pilgrim 2 years, 4 months ago

Of course, personal income tax collections have outpaced inflation. Just as property tax collections have. And that is Luke Bell's issue. But not how he obscures the topic by pointing to income growth.

And note how he continues to obscure the issue by continuing to insist "taxes" have increased and that he wants voters to have a say on "property taxes." What he wants, of course, is for voters to limit property tax collections on the fair market value of property.

What he doesn't want is for voters to limit REALTORS collections on that property. Or the fees collected as part of closing costs. Those are still fair game, to be determined by the market value. He's also not interested in admitting that the reason property tax collections have spiked is because of the housing bubble.

Who created the housing bubble? REALTORS and their crooked friends in the mortgage industry. What happens when they do it again and crash the economy? The next time mill levies will have been cratered by Luke Bell's ridiculous legislation.

Just one of the numerous glaring flaws with this boondoggle.

Rob Chestnut 2 years, 4 months ago

This entire dialog is missing an important point. As the State of Kansas continues to cut funding for social services, education and the arts, it is local government funding that has been forced to stem the tide. The problem with this legislation is that it does not take into account actions taken by the legislature to cut programs at the state level now being absorbed by municipalities.

I do not want to see increasing property taxes, but I also want to give my locally elected officials the flexibility to meet the needs in the community that the state chooses not to meet if the majority of its constituents supports the initiative.

Unfortunately, this is an attempt to push down the dogma of the state legislature to each and every local community. Regardless of the issue, it is not a good precedent on its face.

Cille King 2 years, 4 months ago

Rob, very well said. I fully agree that the problem is the state legislature in reducing funding to local governments, then imposing unrealistic restrictions on local governments in raising funds - the current law's timeline does not work for counties. Local elected officials should be able to meet the budget needs, and if the voters don't approve, they can elect different officials.

Bob Summers 2 years, 4 months ago

It's time home owners got some skin in the game and paid their fair share.

Somebody has to pay for the government's redistribution of money for the demands of the artist's and social service recipients.

It going to take time for the immigrant investment from South America and refugees, if they're allowed residence, to become productive. So homeowners need to buck up and pay up.

Barb Gordon 2 years, 4 months ago

We're a bit too busy subsidizing the big billionaire in Wichita right now who no longer pays any state income taxes at all. He's busy being a job creator for lobbyists, although he's also rather fond of Chinese and Mexican labor at the moment, so I bet he can outsource some more jobs right now without all the hassle of anyone immigrating here to work them. The refugees will just have to get their initial transition support from churches. Oh, right. They already do.

Don Zimmer 2 years, 4 months ago

As a commercial property owner whose state LLC income is exempt from Kansas income taxes I found that I paid more in property taxes than the reduced exemption under the Brownback fiasco.. One property more than doubled from $11K to over $22K with the excuse of reduced state reimbursements. And do you think when they restore some sanity that the local governments will reduce their taxes to reflect their new income?

Kendall Simmons 2 years, 4 months ago

I have a couple of really serious questions.

1) You said you paid more money in property taxes on a particular piece of property. that $11,000 to $22,000 the increase in property TAXES? Or merely in property VALUATION?

Was this in Douglas County or somewhere else? And over how long a period of time did this doubling occur?

2) As someone whose state LLC income is exempt from Kansas income tax, did you hire anyone or give anyone raises with that money? Obviously I mean before you knew you'd be paying more in property taxes, so let me ask if you had intended to?

Don Zimmer 2 years, 4 months ago

the taxes doubled, not in Douglas County. From 2013 to 2014, one year. My intent was to show I was better off paying state income taxes than increased property taxes.

Carol Bowen 2 years, 4 months ago

I have attached a graph of property tax revenue for Douglas County. Folks, help me out here. What variables affect the property tax revenue besides millage? As I recall, assessments are based on similar properties sold. Is that only true for residential? I know that our assessment, millage, and tax vary from year to year, but our property tax varies very little.

Hang on. Another graph will follow.

Luke and Dave, I wanted to graph actual dollars for two reasons:

  1. Percents are not data, and
  2. Percents are easily misinterpreted. They have no size.

Property Tax Revenue in Dollars for Douglas County

Property Tax Revenue in Dollars for Douglas County by Carol Bowen

Carol Bowen 2 years, 4 months ago

For this attached graph, I calculated the % increase each year. Now, if some properties have not experienced a dramatic increase in property tax, does that mean that the increase is because of properties sold, in other words, the sold properties realized their value? How does this compare with real estate sales?

Notice that in some years the % increase peaked, but the peaks were followed by valleys (adjustments). The average increase was 8%. In 2009, the increase was -1%.

I guess what I am trying to point out is that it's not possible to come to a simple conclusion. While it looks like property taxes are up, up, and away, where is the fat in our local government? And, why do the graphs look the way they do? I agree with Rob Chestnut. We are getting what we pay for, and we are absorbing unfunded responsibilities from the state level.

P.S. It does not make sense to compare counties, because some of them are sparsely populated and rural.

Carol Bowen 2 years, 4 months ago

Yes. I think so, too. I'm thinking the best comparison might be property taxes compared to real estate sales by year.

Lynn Grant 2 years, 4 months ago

Does it seem that Luke Bell is a little arrogant and dismissive? Typical Brownbacker.

George Lippencott 2 years, 4 months ago

Yea!!! In a city where the majority rents and do not bear the full burden of property taxes, a city where the population is more transitory then in most of our states so that the burden passes quickly, a city where state government is the largest employer and salaries and benefits increases transcend what the average citizen might expect is it not surprising that taxes are the highest in the state!!

I have lived under such a system and it worked just fine. Increased revenues because of property valuations increases did not happen so that tax increases had to be tied to tangible matters the tax payers could understand (or the leadership lost their jobs).

Michelle Reynolds 2 years, 4 months ago

I don't understand all the negativity. No matter if you agree with Luke or not don't you all want legislation that keeps our property taxes from being abused. There needs to be checks and balances.

Carol Bowen 2 years, 4 months ago

There should be a problem to solve. Solutions looking for a problem are suspect. So, can we identify a problem with property taxes? If so, what is it?

Carol Bowen 2 years, 4 months ago

What are we willing to give up in infrastructure and services?

Carol Bowen 2 years, 4 months ago

George, We need more specifics. We could consider not giving tax incentives to potential new business, but that could work against us. What about the police department? If we cannot identify places to cut, we are relying on emotional and contagious generalities.

George Lippencott 2 years, 4 months ago

How about we eliminate bus service?? Most cities our size do not have public transportation. We do not need a "historic" fund. There are many small services we enjoy that smaller jurisdictions can not afford.

I really believe in zero based budgets. Each element of our government starts from zero not from.last years budget and must justify everything. Set a ten percent cut in place. The combination makes "gold watches" very hard to sell. If we really need everything then we raise taxes but with the clear knowledge that everything is indeed a need and not a want.

Carol Bowen 2 years, 4 months ago

I've lived in smaller communities with bus service that I used regularly. I do like your suggestion of starting with a zero based budget.

Barb Gordon 2 years, 4 months ago

We voted specifically to keep the bus service, even knowing it would raise our taxes.

Barb Gordon 2 years, 4 months ago

Tell me how I can get legislation that prevents national corporate lobbyists from writing model bills that cripple the local budgets and then dictate how my city can handle local affairs - because that seems to be the bigger problem right now.

George Lippencott 2 years, 4 months ago

I might observe that national entities offer model bills for progressive approaches that cost the taxpayers an ever increasing share of the income they work so hard to obtain.

I think your challenge is with the elected officials themselves who pass those "model" bills. Perhaps we should do away with elections and let the courts appointment the legislature so that we get outcomes Barb and company favor???

Barb Gordon 2 years, 4 months ago

I might observe that making cheap, nonsense, straw man arguments about letting courts appoint legislators (what?) shows that you really don't have anything meaningful to contribute to the conversation right now.

George Lippencott 2 years, 4 months ago

Thank you Barb. It sure is dangerous to write anything in opposition to your superior opinion!!.

I think my comment was appropriate

If you do not like national corporation advocating. you certainly must appreciate that it is the legislators who actually pass those bills. Since they are elected they appear to be doing what the people who elected them want.

So - let the courts appoint the legislators so we can avoid the messy side of democracy where the people do not do what barb wants!!

Barb Gordon 2 years, 4 months ago

I think your comment was a straw man argument, and your follow-up starts with an ad hominem while doubling down on the same irrational argument. Because you still don't have anything meaningful to add to the conversation.

Wanting lobby reform and transparency into ALEC's closed-door bill mill doesn't mean I want judges to appoint legislators. That's just such a ridiculous argument. No, having an election does not mean that you lose all right to criticize a legislator once they're elected or that you can't think certain lobbying practices should be reformed. It also doesn't mean that all actions then taken by the legislator will be pleasing to the voting base. Of course, it's ironic that you're arguing in favor of a representative having the power to carry out the will of the people and simultaneously arguing that that representative should have the power to overrule a different group of voters in a more local election.

Yes, I'd have the same argument about those "model bills with progressive approaches" if you can show me an actual example of that happening with the same ALEC-style approach. Go on now. Give me an example. Perhaps with fewer double-explanation point ad hominem temper tantrums.

George Lippencott 2 years, 4 months ago

You are well trained in the art of debate.

What is an ALEC style approach?? Can't answer your challenge unless I know what you mean.

Election reform is a noble idea as long as it allows all "actors" a place at the table unrestricted by other "actors"

You do have a right nee a duty to challenge elected officials. I do not agree that you have a right to silence anybody with an opinion . Again it is not the opinion but the elected official who causes you aggravation. Money is a danger but I do not know any institution that can sort the narratives and establish which are "wrong" and not worthy of being discussed.

Of course I was writing hypothetically when I suggest that the courts should be the determiner of these facts. The court system, however, is much more efficient than the legislature and is more egalitarian than our election based system. If you can not accept that the people may not agree with you and not because of a court decision adverse to your interests then you really do not believe in Democracy - so why not the Kansas courts??

Barb Gordon 2 years, 4 months ago

1) No, I'm just educated.

2) Do your homework before offering your opinion. If you don't know what you're talking about, you certainly don't know what I'm talking about. You especially don't know my opinion well enough to make up arguments for me.

3) I didn't say election reform. I said lobby reform.

4) See point #2.

5) See point #2.

George Lippencott 2 years, 4 months ago

  1. So am I although a technical education. Teaches the scientific method which is very applicable to non technical matters.
  2. And you do? Why do I have to find out what is in the numerator of the data you provided. Can you explain it to bolster your point. By the by my education enables me to see thorough propaganda and avoid lemming like behavior. Apparently;y yours does not
  3. Lobbying is a part of electing!!! It is still the elected official that implements policy and passes laws. Not the lobbyist. You have to be pretty dumb to not understand that!!
  4. see 3.

Barb Gordon 2 years, 4 months ago

1) You've not been demonstrating it. You're too stubborn to change your opinion based on new information and would rather spend your energy on logical fallacies such as straw man arguments and ad hominems.

2) Yes, I do. Do your own homework. I've often even done the heavy lifting for you in other threads, not that it has done much good. I've provided you with authoritative informational links, and you spent the bulk of the time trying to resolve your own cognitive dissonance by claiming you were "going" to do your own research on the issue at some unspecified later date and not actually doing said research or responding with legitimate, research-based counter points.

3) No. Electoral reform is specifically the practices around elections, such as voter ID laws, and that's not the current topic of discussion. Save it for the threads where it's actually being discussed. Courts appointing people instead of voters would definitely fall under the auspices of "election reform." - And a ridiculous idea at that. Lobbying is an act meant to influence legislating. And we're talking about legislating right now. Handing someone model bills in fancy private parties is an act of influence during the legislative process, not an attempt to influence the outcome of an election. The election has already occurred. Funding a campaign is a different matter, although lobby reform could potentially make tit-for-tat acts by legislators a little easier for the voter to spot.

4) Again with the name-calling. See #1

George Lippencott 2 years, 4 months ago

Here we go again.

You are educated and I am not because you have provided me with information and I have not agreed with you. Maybe I found your data lacking as I have so often. There is no lack of data and argument from all sides of these arguments. What makes yours special??

That said, the original issue was taxes and my agreement that requiring a vote to raise them was not such a burden as I have lived under such a system and well we lacked for few amenities.

A number of people during my apparently narrow and poorly educated life have observed that one should not get into a mud fight with a pig --- you both get dirty and the pig likes it. I am dirty and i do not like it.

Go argue the rest of your issues with somebody else. We still pay the highest or near the highest property tax in the state. Slowing that train down cannot be all bad (opinion).

Barb Gordon 2 years, 4 months ago

I don't care if you're educated. I don't care if you agree with me. I care if you're able to educate yourself before opining when you find yourself in a state of ignorance. I care if you claim to follow "the scientific method" and don't. I care if you pretend to find flaws in data from world authorities but can't actually point out any of those flaws or find counter-information. That's you. I already told you that you had nothing meaningful to contribute to this thread, and you've done nothing to prove me wrong.

As far as the property taxes go - well, we voted on them. I remember at least three or four votes to raise my own property taxes. Why does the state get to override what we voted for in Lawrence?

George Lippencott 2 years, 4 months ago

Barb Gordon: Judge, Jury and Executioner. Wow!!! I sure hope people like you never get real power. Oops, you already have it. I am not going to continue a mud fight. where everything you write is wholesome and accurate and everything I write or that you infer I wrote is evil and distorted. No win.

As far as you last paragraph it reflects your total lack of understanding of what I thought we are discussing. The legislative proposal (that is all it is) would not put the state in any position to veto our vote. It would simply require a vote in order to raise local property taxes.

I too have voted to raise my taxes. The raises I object to are the ones that result from presumed property valuation increases that simply deliver more tax money without anybody voting for anything.

In our case we paid thousand of dollars in taxes on hypothetical valuation increases that in retrospect never happened. I want my money back!!??

Barb Gordon 2 years, 4 months ago

Cripes. You know what you sound like? "I'm not going to keep arguing with you. Except when I log in to keep arguing with you. I'm not going to keep arguing with you. Except when I log in to keep arguing with you. I'm totally flouncing. Except for this last post. That's it. I'm flouncing. Nope. My ball, my game, and if you won't let me win I'm going home. You guys! I really mean it. I'm not going to keep arguing with you. You're mean. I don't like you. I'm calling you more names. I'm going home. I mean it this time."

Flounce or don't.

The state legislature would require a vote to keep having the things we already voted to have. It would pretend that property values and inflation are the same thing and rise at the same rates, even though they do not. We already vote on raising property taxes. You can already contest property values that you think are inappropriate. I've done it.

George Lippencott 2 years, 3 months ago

Your interpretation is absurd. We could raise our taxes anytime we wanted to do so only our lawgivers would have to vote to do so. How dense can someone be???

I'll quit when you stop posting stupidity like the above.

You certainly are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts!!!!!

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 2 years, 4 months ago

Here's what really is going on with this limiting taxes locally.

  1. AFP bribed enough politicians to get taxes eliminated for the rich, and raised for the poor. And we all know how that is working out.

  2. Communities who care about their constituents and their communities raised taxes to help offset what the state can no longer afford.

  3. AFP whined to their bought and paid for state reps. State reps try to make city and county elections partisan. When that didn't work, supposedly "small government", "local control" conservatives decide to ride rough shod over city and county governments.

  4. Seriously, there are plenty of small town in Kansas who are AYP supporters and who don't want to pay taxes. Move there. Of course, you will not have police, good roads, parks and rec activities for your children or you, parades, cool fireworks, art centers, parks, etc. But if you don't like paying the taxes, that's where you need to live.

George Lippencott 2 years, 4 months ago

So you really believe that our city government is non partisan?? Our county government certainly is partisan.

I believe I have every right to stop you from raising my taxes. If we can not work that through dialogue then using a superior government body to do so seems quite appropriate... kind of like Mr Obama using the regulatory powers of the federal government to force states with alternate opinions to adhere to what he wants.

George Lippencott 2 years, 4 months ago

You do realize that many people did not really see a tax cut when the governator did his thing but those same people will see a tax increase when the county and city attempt to replace state funding claimed by various advocacy groups to have been cut.

When are we going to have a dialogue about how much tax is enough? Or perhaps we go back to my suggestion to barb and have the courts decide how much tax is enough??!!

John Hampton 2 years, 4 months ago

Richard Heckler reminds me of the weatherman from the movie "Anchorman".

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