The issue:An error on Kimberly-Clark’s tax bills could have cost taxpayers more than $1 million over the course of the 10-year
abatement were it not for a concerned citizen’s research.
Our View: Abatement policies should include checks and balances to ensure school districts and other public entities receive their due.Where does the buck stop?
Paul Welcome, county appraiser, says it’s not his fault Kimberly-Clark was incorrectly billed for only 25 percent of their taxes as opposed to 50 percent.
The error would have cost taxpayers an additional $1 million over the course of the abatement if a concerned citizen hadn’t audited the billing, finding errors for the last three years.
And Kimberly-Clark isn’t the only bill  we believe has errors. It’s just the only one confirmed as of this writing. An open records request for a complete list of all the abated properties at New Century AirCenter was made in mid-December, but officials to date haven’t released the list.
Welcome said his office followed the rules, auditing a self-reported tax abatement form that is filled out by the company’s bond counsel. The same counsel who receives a commission for selling the bonds. They say it was an error and will be corrected.
The abatement, which was granted by the Johnson County Board of Commissioners, and was rubber stamped all the way to the Board of Tax Appeals, has long since left their hands and concern. It’s a done deal, and public officials  pat themselves on the back for all their hard work in bringing taxable entities onto the books.
The school district, which has joined the Schools For Fair Funding lawsuit against taxpayers requesting additional revenue, was surprised at the error.
So the question is, who’s responsible for auditing these tax abatements?
Apparently no one.
And yet the tax shift game continues as businesses play one city against each other, and elected officials pick and choose winners in the abatement game. As of 2007, there were 96 businesses receiving tax abatements representing millions in lost revenue to the state, county and school districts. That number has grown, but bringing these businesses to town is just another feather in our politicians’ caps.
And there apparently is no auditing mechanism in place.
It’s like handing a car salesman a blank check and saying you want to buy a sleek and shiny new car .He strokes your ego and you sign the check with a smile. A year down the road you wonder why you’re broke, but when you go back to find the salesman, he’s already moved down the road to his next rube.