Marion County Commissioner Dan Holub, commissioners from five other counties, Rep. J. Robert Brookens, and representatives of Kansas Association of Counties and Kansas Department of Revenue met with Gov. Sam Brownback on Monday to discuss a property tax exemption that was given to TransCanada for the company’s Keystone XL oil pipeline.
Holub said he thought Brownback showed sincere concern for the issues raised in the meeting.
“It was an excellent meeting, quite honestly,” he said. “I think the governor was unaware of some of the history.”
Holub said Brownback was surprised to learn that Kansas was the only state that gave a tax exemption to the pipeline.
Quite a bit of the one-hour meeting covered access for Kansas oil refineries to the oil transported in the pipeline. The tax exemption was granted on the grounds that spur lines would go directly to refineries in the state, but no such lines were built. That is the basis Kansas Department of Revenue is using in opposing the exemption in the Court of Tax Appeals.
Holub said he was pleased to not receive the same line of reasoning from the governor that legislators repeatedly used to justify the exemption — “a deal is a deal.”
The counties made three requests of Brownback — that the state take the tax exemption in district court if the Court of Tax Appeals upholds it, that the state repeal legislation that would provide identical exemptions for future pipelines, and that the counties be explicitly notified when the state considers legislation that would effectively give away county tax dollars in the future.
Brownback said he would research the issues the counties raised in more detail. Holub said he felt the governor was really listening and interested.
“I feel we’re going to see something out of this,” Holub said.
The other counties included in the meeting were Washington, Clay, Dickinson, Butler, and Cowley counties, which the pipeline also traverses.