Politics & Government

Property tax spending cap for Kansas cities, counties to begin in 2017

Under a state law passed last year, city and county governments will have to hold a public vote if they want to raise spending by more than an adjusted Consumer Price Index rate to be set by the state. (Feb. 9, 2016)
Under a state law passed last year, city and county governments will have to hold a public vote if they want to raise spending by more than an adjusted Consumer Price Index rate to be set by the state. (Feb. 9, 2016) The Wichita Eagle

Gov. Sam Brownback has signed a bill moving up the start date for putting a lid on city and county government spending, his office announced Tuesday.

The governor’s approval means that the spending cap will be implemented next year rather than in 2018.

The intent is to restrict cities and counties from raising and spending money that comes in from property taxes when property valuations rise.

Starting with next year’s budgets, local governments will have to limit their spending increases to a modified consumer price index to be calculated by the state.

Any money beyond that would have to be refunded through property tax cuts.

If a city or county wants to increase its spending by more than the state-allowed percentage, it would have to schedule a public election and get voter approval.

The bill was initially a go-to-war issue for the cities and counties, with the notable exception of the Sedgwick County Commission, where the low-tax conservative majority embraced it from the outset.

But in the legislative process, several exceptions were added that made the bill more palatable for local governments. That prompted most cities and counties to change their stance from opposition to neutrality.

The key exceptions to the tax lid:

▪ Cities and counties will be able to keep their increased income when temporary tax abatements for redevelopment expire and the properties involved return to the tax rolls.

▪ Local governments will be able to exceed the tax lid to pay for increased costs of police, fire and emergency medical services.

▪ New expenses mandated by federal or state government won’t count against the local governments’ tax lids.

Dion Lefler: 316-268-6527, @DionKansas

  Comments