With little discussion or change at the Jan. 19 meeting, the Gardner council approved the city’s legislative agenda 4-0. Rich Melton, council member, was absent.
Last November area city managers met with county officials to discuss a joint city/county legislative platform to be used to lobby legislators for positions area governments/taxing entities have in common.
“By participating in this process, the city is pursuing legislative policies that seek to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of local government operations for Gardner,” according to Matt Wolff, management analyst on the council action form.
A new item on this year’s agenda was the “property tax lid” passed by the Kansas Legislature last year which caps property tax increases, without public vote, at the rate of inflation.
The county’s agenda is direct and says it “strongly opposes” any state-imposed limits on taxing and spending; however, Gardner’s is more nuanced and reads: “Property Tax Lid – Gardner supports the current exemptions to the property tax lid. Removal of the exemptions could prevent the city from investing in critical infrastructure and increase the cost of debt. Gardner encourages the Legislature to amend the law to address conflicts regarding the mandatory election calendar and budget timelines.“
Although there was discussion at the council meeting regarding the “lid,” as passed, Gardner’s agenda apparently supports the repeal of the property tax lid, or requests exemptions.
“The city council’s legislative agenda does not call for the repeal of the tax lid. The legislative agenda supports all of the current exemptions and opposes any legislation that would remove them,” according to a statement issued by the city’s public information officer. “The city council opposes the removal of the exemptions because they believe it would hamstring the city in achieving its goals.”
HB 2109 passed last session. As passed, the (cap) requirement will take effect in 2018, although SB 316 was introduced this year to move the effective date from 2018 to July 2016.
Since the 1990’s, county appraisers have been charged with valuing personal property at fair market value. If property values increase, government entities receive more revenue, unless mill levies are rolled back. Property owners do have the right to protest appraisals individually.
The approved agenda also opposes “artificial limits” on appraised valuation growth by the state, but supports modification of legislation that would prevent improper agricultural designation with remedies to be administered by the county appraiser.
Also under the agenda’s tax policy:
• City requests the Legislature avoid applying any further exemptions to the ad valorem property tax base and does not support changes in the state taxation policy that would narrow the tax base or significantly reduce funding.
• Maintains that local officials and residents should determine local sales tax and use rates and opposes legislation that would preempt local authority.
•Supports current law that exempts local government and public construction projects from sales taxes.
• Supports legislation that would expedite the process of collecting delinquent special assessments.
The complete legislative agenda is available on the city’s website.