- Associated Press - Sunday, April 16, 2017

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - An organization representing Kansas’ local governments plans to push for legislation that would allow greater flexibility in boosting property taxes without first seeking voter blessings for them.

The League of Kansas Municipalities said it supports amending a 2015 “property tax lid” law that generally requires cities and counties to seek voter approval before they can adopt a budget that increases the spending of property tax revenues beyond a five-year average rate of inflation, the Lawrence Journal-World (https://bit.ly/2oE3Frc ) reported.

Two measures relating to the tax lid are pending in Topeka. One would repeal it; the other - supported by the League of Kansas Municipalities - would make bigger budgets subject to protest petitions, not automatically requiring an election.

Erik Sartorius, the league’s executive director, called the bill involving the protest petition “the most viable option to give cities a workable framework for budgetary decisions.”

Rep. Steve Johnson, the Assaria Republican who heads the House Taxation Committee, has said he has been holding off working on either bill until getting an idea from local governments about which measure they believed would more likely pass both chambers.

As the legislative session winds down, most of the committee’s focus will be on passing a tax bill to close a looming shortfall of nearly $1 billion for state government while also providing additional money for public schools.

The tax lid is a significant issue now for Kansas cities and counties because they are starting to prepare their budgets for calendar year 2018.

Douglas County Administrator Craig Weinaug said that if the tax lid remains in place as it is, local governments eventually will be forced to make major cuts in their annual spending.

Sartorius said local governments ultimately would rather see the tax lid repealed entirely, but they don’t see that as a possibility this year.


Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, https://www.ljworld.com

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