Commissioner suggests ad to place attention on demand transfers

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

A Leavenworth County commissioner has proposed placing an ad in the newspaper to state to make a case for what are commonly referred to as demand transfers.

"We're trying to get our message out there," Commissioner Doug Smith said.

County commissioners have frequently expressed frustration that the state withholds tax money they say was intended for local property tax reduction.

Smith recommended purchasing a newspaper ad to provide information about the issue to members of the public. He said the ad could be paid for out of the pockets of commissioners rather than using county funds.

He made a suggestion for the ad Wednesday, noting that commissioners soon will be having a required public hearing about exceeding what is considered the county's revenue neutral rate.

This means property tax revenue for the county will increase in dollars next year. Commissioners are planning to reduce the county's overall mill levy, which is used in determining property taxes, in 2022. But property tax revenue will still increase because of an increase in property valuation.

A Kansas law established a process for the state government to transfer a percentage of sales tax revenue into a fund for local property tax reduction.

Another state law established a process for the state government to place money in a county and city revenue sharing fund.

County officials argue the state has not been making the transfers to local governments as outlined in these laws for about 20 years. Commissioners accuse state lawmakers of withholding the money in order to balance the state budget.

"They still collect that money," County Administrator Mark Loughry said.

He said the Leavenworth County government could have received an estimated total of $25 million in the years since the state stopped making the transfers to local governments. He said the total may be closer to $35 million to $40 million.

Commissioner Vicky Kaaz called Smith's suggestion for a newspaper advertisement "an incredibly wonderful idea."

Kaaz said she has been trying to convey the commissioners' concerns on the issue to people for the past 2.5 years. She said a detailed explanation may help.

Commissioners Jeff Culbertson said the idea would be a public service.

"People just don't know about it," he said.

Culbertson said he would like to propose a resolution to require all of the money the county may receive in the future through demand transfers to be used for tax relief.

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