Employees lobby against exemptions
Leavenworth County appraiser Donna Graf encouraged legislators to curtail new tax exemptions when county department heads and commissioners met with state lawmakers last Wednesday in Leavenworth.
"I don't think you can afford to have more exemptions," Graf said. "Our tax base has dwindled to where there is so much on real estate."
Homeowners seemed to have had more difficulty paying property taxes this year, said Janice Young, Leavenworth County treasurer. Young noted that the number of delinquent taxpayers whose names were published in August increased substantially over last year.
Keyta Kelly, county counselor at large, agreed, and said homeowners bear an increasingly large burden of paying taxes because various properties are exempted.
Rep. Ken Wilk, R-Lansing, asked Kelly if she had certain exemptions in mind.
She answered: "Religious. There are so many people that get exempted under the religion exemption," Kelly said.
Kelly noted religious organizations that purchase new cars every year, cars she said are exempt from property taxes.
"And the churches have numerous buildings and they keep expanding," Kelly said. "We have so many exemptions out there it's just unbelievable and it's all being shifted to the homeowners."
Kelly noted that an elderly man had recently broken down when he appeared before the board of tax appeals.
"He was crying because he could not absorb his tax increase this year," Kelly said. "Anyone that wants an exemption can get one with very little effort and it's all falling back on the homeowners."