Tonganoxie City Council holds off on excise tax decision for church
The Tonganoxie City Council held off on a decision on Cornerstone Family Worship’s excise tax exemption request.
The Rev. Ron Swaim, pastor for Cornerstone Family Worship, spoke to the council during Monday’s regular city council meeting.
Swaim’s congregation will have a new church where the Sunset Motel formerly stood near the U.S. Highway 24-40 curve across from Tonganoxie High School’s east campus to the northwest.
Cornerstone’s total property is 10 acres with a structure to be built on about 1 acre and another 2 acres for drives and parking.
The total excise tax on the property is $39,204, but Swaim was asking the city to consider a lower amount.
The minister said the church is incurring various expenses through KDOT regulations and other factors on the 10-acre area of land and was hoping to have a discount of some amount.
City Administrator Nathan McCommon advised the council about how the city worked with churches on previous projects since 2000. He said there was no clear precedent, as some churches paid the full excise tax and others received a 30 percent discount.
However, it appeared that there was a pattern of churches in that, when undergoing expansion projects, they received that discount.
Sacred Heart Catholic Church paid the full $22,000 for its excise tax in 2004.
Swaim noted that Cornerstone was dealing with a much larger piece of land than other churches.
Council members had a general consensus to give some sort of discount, though Council Member Curtis Oroke was hesitant to give a discount. He noted that was prime land and the tax provides needed revenue to the city.
He also contended that with sewer and utility hook-ups already available to the property, the church already is saving money.
Swaim said there still would be some expenses.
The council had a motion and a second on the floor to give a 30 percent discount, which meant the church’s excise tax responsibility would have been $27,440.
After further discussion, though, the council opted to table the decision. The council directed McCommon to research how other area communities handle such requests from churches before voting on the issue.