• Last modified 3068 days ago (Nov. 23, 2010)


To err is human, to give away tax money can be reckless

I had an opportunity to attend a meeting Thursday with Riley County officials and legislators who serve that area.

I heard first-hand from four of the legislators who voted in favor of the bill to make it possible for TransCanada Pipeline Company to receive millions of dollars in property tax exemptions for the next 10 years.

All four indicated that they believed at the time they approved the exemption the company had met the terms of the exemption. All four also indicated that they would follow Rep. Carl Holmes and do whatever he told them to do.

The most troubling to me was that none of the four said they would correct the situation since TransCanada was not going to provide access to Kansas refineries, a requirement for the exemption.

I don’t fault legislators for voting for the exemption at the time because they were duped, maybe with Rep. Holmes, regarding the oil company’s intentions. They were led to believe that the pipeline would go around Kansas if an exemption wasn’t offered.

What continues to baffle most of us who have been following the mayhem the past five years is why legislators would be willing to give away the farm to a foreign-based oil company that didn’t make any bricks and mortar investment or expand the job market for Kansans.

On the one hand, the state continues to struggle to balance its budget — taking funds away from counties, cities, and school districts to do so. On the other hand, they give away millions of dollars during the next 10 years to a foreign company. It doesn’t make sense.

Riley County officials have the right idea with requesting a moratorium of sorts on tax exemptions. They are asking the legislature to not grant any more exemptions or rebates because it’s costing local governments too much in the end. And they’re right. The state isn’t going to reduce their revenue. When they grant rebates or reduce taxes, it means less revenue being given to local entities. When local entities can’t make ends meet, local taxes and services are increased to meet those responsibilities. So, we end up paying for the tax rebate or reduction.

It doesn’t seem we’re going to get to the bottom of this situation. Legislators are continuing to dig in, refusing to go against Rep. Holmes even if it has been proven they were duped.

Sigh. Indeed a head scratcher.

Well, the worst is yet to come, folks. The pipeline company is planning another pipeline to run along the side of the current pipeline. And guess what they will be offered? Another exemption. The bill also allows exemptions for natural gas lines.

When will it end? I think the nightmare will continue until someone with a conscious steps up and corrects this situation.

— susan berg

Last modified Nov. 23, 2010