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LETTERS: It's time to rally for repeal of tax exemption

It’s time to rally for repeal of tax exemption

To the editor:

The 2010 Kansas Legislative session is now approaching the halfway point. In an interview before the start of the session, our State Rep. Bob Brookens, stated that he would support legislative efforts to take back the property tax exemption given to Keystone/TransCanada in 2006.

The property tax for Marion County from the pipeline has been estimated at $1.9 million. We are fortunate to have a representative who wants to correct this bad law that took away our county government’s taxing authority without any consultation. Former representative Don Dahl and state Senator Jim Barnett both supported the law in 2006. I attended a Marion County legislative coffee in 2006 and there was no mention of legislation to exempt Marion County property taxes for the pipeline by either Dahl or Barnett.

I don’t think it is any secret that Marion County and our local school districts are facing some difficult times with the shortfall in funding because of our ailing economy. This is not a good time to provide 10 years of tax relief to a large, wealthy, foreign energy company. But it seems that there is very little will on the part of the Marion County Commission, school boards, or citizens to support Representative Brookens in his efforts to remedy the situation.

For example, rather than spend valuable time and effort to change the tax laws to allow for a “set fee” taxation scheme to fund the new jail, why don’t county commissioners and jail committee members lobby the legislature and create a grassroots effort to gain the property taxes that were unfairly taken from us? The exempted taxes could very easily fund the building of the jail and pay for increased operating costs.

Representatives of several powerful agricultural groups — like Kansas Farm Bureau, Kansas Corn Growers Association, and wheat producers groups — reside in Marion County and could advocate for the sake of landowners and taxpayers in Marion County.

The opportunity to address this issue in the legislature is quickly losing time and if it is not dealt with this session, it is unlikely to have any chance in the future.

Harry E. Bennett
Marion

Last modified Feb. 10, 2010

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