The Superior Express -

Editor's Notebook


August 18, 2022

From our vantage point it appears efforts to control property taxes and hold down governmental subdivision taxing are having the opposite effect.

In recent days this writer received multiple envelopes from Jewell County each containing at least two legal size sheets of paper and one letter-sized sheet advising in March of 2021 the Kansas Legislature had passed a bill establishing limitations on ad valorem property tax levies. If the taxing authority wants to exceed those limits, a public hearing must now be held and a printed notice of when and where the hearing will be held must be mailed to each property owner.

For most of the properties affected, five hearings will be held in an attempt to justify the tax increase.

One page in each mailing explained why the mailing was being made. According to that explanation the goal of revenue neutral is met when a taxing jurisdiction budgets the exact same amount of property tax revenue in dollars for the upcoming budget year as was done for the current year. For example, if a taxing entity used $1 million in property tax revenue in 2022 and plans to use $1 more in 2023, it is necessary to send the notice and hold the hearings.

The notices are not related to appraised property tax value and are not an indication of what a property owner’s tax will be. The mill levy and resulting tax amount take into consideration the value of the property located within the taxing district. It is possible because of new construction, values might climb, levies decline and the notices still be required.

Since there has not been a lot of new construction in Jewell County in recent years, spending increases generally mean for most property owners, the taxes will be going up.

In Nuckolls County we are yet to see what will happen but the Nebraska legislature has adopted a similar law and we should be receiving notices in the near future.

This newspaper’s report last week of the August meeting of the Superior Board of Education made reference to the new law and what it might mean. The Sunday Omaha World-Herald contained a story that explained the new requirement in greater detail.

Martha Stoddard writing for the World-Herald said, “The latest armaments in the battle to control property taxes should arrive in the mailboxes of Nebraska property owners next month.”

The weapons? Giant postcards usually printed on pink paper emblazoned with “Notice of Proposed Tax Increase.”

The cards will inform property owners of the time and place for new public hearings which will give people wanting to have their say about taxes an opportunity to do. There will be one hearing per county held sometime after 6 p.m.

The Nebraska law is more flexible than the Kansas Law. Nebraksa taxing authorities may increase their spending by up to 2 percent before being required to hold the hearings and in Nebraska one hearing will suffice for all taxing districts within a county. In the case of taxing authorities which cross county lines, the hearing for that authority will be held in its home county.

Both states previously provided opportunities for the public to formally voice their budget opinions but it has been our experience that few people have done so. Generally, they only attend public meetings to ask for new services. When the bill for those services arrives, they take their complaints to the coffee shop.

Without doubt the new laws will increase the cost of government. We will have to wait and see what effect they may have on spending. At this time it appears to me they will increase spending.


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