Sometimes in the hearts of dreamers, gems of insight are born that can be acted upon by people of practical mind.
With that said, I want to share with you ideas I have had for Marion County that might be of use to our entrepreneurs or those in county, state and federal government with the powers to act upon them—whether they sound wise or foolish to begin with.
Let me first point out to you that in nine years, Marion County may have a significant receipt in the millions of dollars annually when the state’s exemption for TransCanada Keystone oil pipeline expires.
While our officials have rightfully been irate with the state’s duplicity in granting this exemption, they should also be turning attention to the time when the possibility will exist that some of the property-tax money from this pipeline will be available for county use.
That is not that far off.
Our county commissioners also have the chance in the meantime to point out to state government that the governor’s proposal to eliminate the income tax is not the way to go when there is another tax on all property owners in this county, and the other counties, that needs to be eliminated or reduced first. That’s the property tax.
Property tax is an outdated concept that assumes property ownership is always coupled with wealth.
It isn’t. And, that isn’t meant to imply any problem with county appraisers themselves, who usually do commendable work.
The property tax is a predatory tax on segments of our population, such as the elderly trying to stay in their homes on low incomes, the small businesses trying to turn a profit that might enable them to pay an income tax, farmers, etc., on and on.
I’m OK with oil pipelines and other such entities continuing to pay a valuation use tax of some kind long after a home and business tax has ceased. Pipelines represent disruptions in the use of property that should be paid for both to landowners and the government representing them.
Our county commissioners can communicate with other counties to pass on the idea just as they do in other cases.
In one more government creative thinking opportunity, let’s get together our county government, the Kansas Department of Transportation and the Corps of Engineers at Marion Reservoir to get a small dredge going out there with an accompanying KDOT and county-run dump area for toxicity in the lake sludge to dissipate, and later be used as fill dirt for roads and highways.
It doesn’t have to be done in grandiose style. Perhaps a dredge operator and trucking crews could take materials out only during slack work periods—think Keystone money innovations at work.
Every community that draws water and wealth as a result of the reservoir knows it is worth saving, even if it’s done slowly and purposely.
Let’s recognize that our two best industrial opportunities in this county are agriculture and energy production.
It’s fine for the county and city economic directors to work to locate retailers who want to come here. But the basic push of original effort should be to attract basic industries and business.
The development of Countryside Feed at Hillsboro was a basic step in the right direction, along with the giant and costly new grain silos at cooperative elevators.
High schools in this county have strong vocational agriculture programs that graduate talented young people. Let’s do whatever we can to help those young people get started in farming here if they want to, even without the family resources to help them begin.
I realize this sounds like a stretch in what should be strong resource planning, but we are in a new era when crop farming and livestock production have become much more profitable, even if getting into them is much more costly.
Let’s expand the thinking on the contributions this county can make in energy production and the income streams that can come from it to help us all.
In county government and community development, let’s support the efforts in the southern part of the county, where landowners are close to cross-country electrical lines to locate electrical generating wind turbines there. Let’s look at more turbines in other parts of the county.
Let’s expand on that by inviting Westar Energy to consider building a natural-gas-powered electrical generation plant here. Natural gas is the most abundant environmentally preferred fuel available, and gas generating plants are replacing aged coal-fired plants.
Let our county begin now to explore the factors of water usage and the expected oil and gas frack drilling here that might relate to this idea.
We need to realize that dreaming and innovating—not accepting our demise—are the things that will give this county a better human existence in the future.