By NICK GOSNELL
HUTCHINSON, Kan. — As local government entities begin finalizing their budgets for 2022, an advocate for lower taxes says new legislation that makes raises in taxes both through mill rate and valuation increase clear has helped slow the growth of government.
"This law was based on what's been in effect in Utah and Tennessee for over 30 years," said Dave Trabert with the Kansas Policy Institute. "It has really helped hold property taxes down in those states. For example, in Utah, the effective rate declined 7.5% over the last 20 years or so, while in Kansas, it increased 22%."
Some local units are already cutting taxes.
"Reno County, over the last 20-some years has increased property tax by 227%," Trabert said. "All of the sudden, Reno County says, we don't have to. We're going to hold property tax flat. We're going to stick with the Revenue Neutral Rate. Saline County is another one, 329% since 1997. This year, no increase."
Some school districts are forced to exceed the revenue neutral rate in order to meet their legal obligation of 20 mills in general fund assessment, though. Trabert said that will be fixed.
"There will be a trailer bill introduced in January that's going to clarify a number of things," Trabert said. "I'm pretty sure that this is one of them. All you have to do is exempt the general fund property tax rate from the revenue neutral requirements, because it has to be 20 mills, no matter what."
The goal would be to keep other school funds without a statutory minimum under the requirements, in the interests of transparency.