Archive for Wednesday, January 7, 2004

Legislation designed to help elderly

January 7, 2004

Two area state legislators will propose a constitutional amendment in the next few weeks that would hold the line on property taxes for the elderly.

Republican Reps. Kenny Wilk, Lansing, and Lee Tafanelli, Ozawkie, have hatched a plan aimed at helping Kansans who are 65 or older and who live in homes they own that are valued at $250,000 or less. Under the proposal, that group's property tax liability would be held at 2004 levels. However, the Legislature could adjust the valuation cap because of inflation.

The duo plan to introduce the legislation within the first two weeks of the session, which starts Monday. The plan must garner approval by at least two-thirds margins in the House and the Senate -- and then would be placed on the November 2004 general election ballot.

"Most of our retirees are on fixed incomes and cannot afford their ever-changing property tax bills," Wilk said.

The plan's intent, Wilk said, is to offer stability in seniors' financial planning.

And while Wilk said initial reactions from senior citizens has been positive, Leavenworth County Appraiser Donna Graf has has many questions.

"There are a lot of 'what-ifs', question marks, out there," she said.

But, she emphasized, if the laws change, her office will work to follow them. And she said she and her employees worry about senior citizens' tax bills. But her questions persist.

"The concept of help is a wonderful one, but how somebody puts this all together, I don't know," she said.

Wilk said he and Tafanelli will work with county treasurers, clerks and appraisers to iron out procedures.

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