- Associated Press - Friday, December 8, 2017

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Local officials say new limits on the ability to raise property tax revenues from one year to the next are hamstringing Kansas cities and counties as they attempt to cover rising health insurance costs for their employees.

Officials representing local governments voiced their concerns about the new law Thursday to an interim legislative committee, the Lawrence Journal-World reported .

The law is commonly known as a property tax lid because it generally caps how much of an increase in property tax revenue cities and counties can levy from year to year at the rate of inflation, unless they get voter approval.

“Our member cities are still very strongly opposed to the tax lid. We think it’s an infringement on the very idea of representative democracy,” said Trey Cocking, deputy director of the League of Kansas Municipalities, which represents city governments. “Our members were elected to make these decisions, and we obviously think these decisions are best made at the local level.”

Cocking said cities throughout Kansas are facing increased costs for such things as employee health insurance, and that the tax lid prevents them from keeping up with such costs.

“We are hearing from cities that, this year, have had their health care costs go up anywhere from 10 to 58 percent,” he said. “The city of McPherson is facing a 10 to 13 percent increase in health care costs, and that’s after they increased their deductibles by 250 percent.”

Some lawmakers have said the cap is more like a sieve because of exceptions to the rule, such as taxes raised to pay for enhanced law enforcement, or taxes raised to pay the cost of complying with state or federal mandates.

The committee will review other tax issues before voting on what to include in its final report to the 2018 Legislature.

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


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