Fight the real enemy
To the editor:
Once again in last week’s editorial you went to great lengths to chastise local government over property taxes.
I have had a property tax discussion with you and your editors, but have been unable to make you understand who the real villain is.
The real villains are not in the courthouse or city buildings. They are in the state house in Topeka. I am speaking of the Legislature and governors since 2000.
Actions taken by the state that led to higher taxes include:
- Kansas is one of seven states who granted Keystone Pipeline a tax exemption.
- Reasons the state gave for the exemption were bogus.
- The state said counties would be paid after 10 years, which didn’t happen because of accelerated depreciation the state granted.
- After 10 years, the pipeline is paying no property taxes.
- Cost to the county and school districts is $2 to $3 million a year, times 10 years.
- The saddest part is our elected legislators from Marion County supported and even promoted the exemption.
Demand transfers came into existence in the 1930s. In an effort to standardize taxes for things like cigarettes, the state by “agreement” with counties and cities, would set rates and send revenue to counties and cities through a formula set by statute.
Demand transfer has expanded to four transfers:
- Local Ad Valorem Tax Reduction Fund
- County and City Revenue Sharing Fund
- Special City County Highway Fund
- School District Capital Outlay Fund
All went well until the 1990s when the state started “raiding” these funds to make up for shortfalls. The last number I saw for revenue loss statewide for counties and cities was $2.2 billion for 2018.
Local governments have only two options to raise revenue, property and sales taxes. Other than that, they have to cut services.
The state’s liberal granting of tax exemptions also gut the tax base.
If you want to throw stones, be my guest. I would suggest you reserve a majority for the culprits.
Finally, your assertion that government employees are, “the most protected and pampered workers in our county,” is egregious.
Experience in the halls of academia and the newsroom hardly qualifies one to make this sort of judgment of a group of people.
Shame on you and a profession that targets people for ridicule with generalizations.
Last modified July 29, 2020