Archive for Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Last-minute bills

February 10, 2010

Last week marked the deadline for state lawmakers and most committees to introduce legislation this session. Among the last-minute bills is one that could change how your property taxes are figured.

Currently those who approve local government budgets (such as your county commissioners, city council members, school board members, etc.) can approve a budget that doesn’t officially increase the mill levy for their jurisdiction but does increase property tax revenues because of increases in assessed property values. House Bill 2630 would change that.

Key components of House Bill 2630:

• If total appraised values on existing property increase, then the governing body (i.e. county commission; city council; school boards, etc.) would be required to decrease the mill levy rate.

• If total appraised values on existing property increase but the governing body doesn’t decrease the mill levy rate, voters in that jurisdiction must approve the increase.

• If total appraised values decrease, governing bodies can approve a mill levy increase without voter approval.

• New construction does not factor into total appraised values.

• The base mill levy is a tax of $1 for every $1,000 in assessed valuation.

While I am not sure how far this legislation will get this session, I am interested in finding ways to reduce property tax increases that happen every year.

Work to finalize the Fiscal Year 2010 budget is making progress. The House Appropriations Committee, which I serve on, gave its approval last Thursday to what is known as the Rescission Bill.

The Rescission Bill is meant to adjust the 2010 budget so it balances when it ends on June 30. The committee made about $91 million in adjustments — including an 11-percent cut to lawmakers’ salaries.

Unfortunately, what the committee approved doesn’t balance the 2010 budget. That’s because the state’s revenue continues to be lower than predicted and lower than what the budget is based upon. Legislative researchers say even with the committee’s $91 million in adjustments, the state is still about $39 million short. And that’s with four more months left in the fiscal year.

This is a very concerning budget situation for our state. More adjustments could be made to the Rescission Bill when the full House debates the measure in the next week. However, I got the sense during the committee’s debate that many of my fellow legislators are hoping the state’s economy is going to experience a miraculous turnaround and won’t support additional cuts to the 2010 budget.

The House Committee on Veterans, Military and Homeland Security, which I serve on, approved a bill last week that is meant to improve relationships between military bases located in Kansas and the cities, counties and landowners adjacent to them.

House Bill 2445 lays out a clear communications framework between the two main groups so the other will always be aware of possible development plans and how those plans will affect the other.

Reps. Tom Sloan, Tom Hawk and I worked with various city and county leaders as well as military officials to work out the language of the bill. As you know, people in leadership can change. Relationships between groups can change. I believe you avoid a lot of conflict and confusion when you put into law what is expected of all parties.

Those opposed to the bill raised concerns that the legislation would halt all future development surrounding military installations and would have a negative impact on future property values. After making some simple changes to the original bill that all interested parties approved, the committee voted to recommend the legislation for passage to the full House.

Rep. Lee Tafanelli is the Chairman of the House Transportation and Public Safety Budget Committee. He can be reached at (785) 296-7639 or Lee.Tafanelli@house.ks.gov.

For more on this issue, go to tonganoxiemirror.com.

As always, it is an honor to serve you and our neighbors in the 47th House District. Please call me if you have any questions or concerns about the Legislature’s work.

First elected to the Kansas Legislature in 2001, Rep. Tafanelli represents the 47th House District, which includes all of Jefferson County, the city of Effingham, and Benton and Center Townships in Atchison County.

Rep. Tafanelli is the Chairman of the House Transportation and Public Safety Budget Committee. He also serves on the House Appropriations Committee; the House Veterans, Military and Homeland Security and the House Vision 2020 Committee as well as the Joint Committee on Kansas Security. He can be reached at (785) 296-7639 or Lee.Tafanelli@house.ks.gov.

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