Gov. Sam Brownback reportedly told representatives from six counties, including Marion, in Topeka Oct. 3 that he was surprised by how little benefit the counties received from the TransCanada Keystone oil slurry pipeline built last year.
Commissioner Dan Holub, who represented Marion County, said the governor apparently was told the pipeline project created employment here.
Instead, Holub said, TransCanada used contracting crews from other states to do the work.
The Kansas Legislature awarded TransCanada Keystone a 10-year exemption from property taxes, which the counties contend cost them millions of dollars in lost property-tax revenue.
TransCanada did make a $20,000 donation for Marion County to use for public benefit, but Holub said that even though it was appreciated, it “obviously” wasn’t adequate to make up for lost tax revenue.
Brownback was joined in the meeting by staff from the Department of Revenue, which also is opposed to the tax exemption, Holub said.
State officials in the meeting told the county representatives that the Kansas Corporation Commission apparently has no jurisdiction over TransCanada, Holub said, apparently because the pipeline only passes through the state without doing business.
Holub said some state officials were uncomfortable that a Canadian company had been given such tax benefits.
Holub said he was pleased with State Rep. Bob Brookens (R-Marion), who “eloquently expressed” the concerns of the counties with the governor.
“Brookens was the only legislator who came,” Holub said. “He was the only legislator there to fight for us.”
Holub said the case for eliminating TransCanada’s tax exemption is before the Kansas Court of Tax Appeals, and could go from there to district court.
But he doesn’t expect that anything to benefit the counties will come from the court.
The only benefits, he said, may be that the state takes care of counties further west by not granting tax exemption where another TransCanada natural gas line is expected to go in.