A property tax lid law and the loss of demand transfer payments were among the topics discussed Tuesday as Leavenworth County commissioners met with state lawmakers.

A property tax lid law and the loss of demand transfer payments were among the topics discussed Tuesday as Leavenworth County commissioners met with state lawmakers.

Legislators who represent portions of Leavenworth County in the Kansas House of Representatives and Senate were invited to the commissioners’ breakfast meeting. Other local elected officials also attended the event.

A document stating matters of legislative concern for county commissioners had been prepared ahead of the meeting. Commissioners took turns Tuesday discussing topics important to them.

One of the issues raised by Commissioner Vicky Kaaz was the loss of what are known as demand transfers from the state such as local ad valorem tax reduction funding and money from a county-city revenue sharing program.

Kaaz argued loss of funding from these sources and other changes enacted by the state government equate to a loss of about $2.46 million in revenue for the county government in 2020. This would be equal to about 3.39 mills in the mill levy system used by the county government for property taxes.

Kaaz argued that if this funding was restored to the county, commissioners could almost immediately reduce the mill levy by 3 to 4 mills.

State Sen. Kevin Braun asked if there was a commitment from commissioners that whatever money they receive back from the state would be used to reduce property taxes in the county.

Braun, a Republican, represents a district that includes the cities of Leavenworth and Lansing.

Kaaz said she would support such a reduction as an individual but she could not make the commitment for the entire five-member County Commission.

"I would commit to that," Commission Chairman Doug Smith said.

Braun later noted that the state is using the funding. The senator said he wants to make sure the second and third order effects of restoring the funding to counties does not make things worse.

Braun said he would not want to see the funding restored to Leavenworth County only to have the state cut back on programs offered in the county.

State Sen. Tom Holland said the discussion regarding a property tax reduction equal to the restoration of funding from the state assumes the county government has enough money now to maintain the status quo.

“Is that accurate?” he said.

Holland, a Democrat, represents a district that includes much of Leavenworth County.

He asked if the county can maintain infrastructure with its current revenue.

Kaaz and Commissioner Chad Schimke answered “no.”

Kaaz said commissioners also would like to see the repeal of a state law that imposes a property tax lid on local governments.

The law places restrictions on the collection of increased property tax revenue that exceeds the rate of inflation. Some areas of the county government’s budget are exempt from these restrictions.

Commissioner Mike Stieben argued the tax lid law is disproportionate against county and city governments because the restrictions do not apply to school districts.

“It’s not applied to all of the local government entities,” he said.

Holland said all local government officials want state lawmakers to get rid of the property tax lid.

But the senator expressed skepticism that legislators will remove the tax lid anytime soon.

“People hate property taxes,” he said.

He suggested commissioners look at specific exemptions they would like to see added to the tax lid.

Commissioner Jeff Culbertson asked for support for a feasibility study for an additional Missouri River bridge that would link Eisenhower Road to Missouri 152 Highway. Culbertson also asked that the Kansas Department of Transportation not take the position of supporting only one Missouri River bridge in Leavenworth County.

One Missouri River bridge already is located in Leavenworth County. The Centennial Bridge connects north Leavenworth with Platte County, Missouri.

Culbertson argued that the potential traffic count for two bridges would justify the cost of adding the second bridge in the county.

He said the second bridge would provide a secondary access point when the Centennial Bridge is temporarily closed.

Culbertson also argued the second bridge will boost economic growth.

State Rep. Jeff Pittman encouraged commissioners to line up support among local officials.

“We need to get behind it,” said Pittman, a Democrat whose district is located in Leavenworth.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR