LETTERS: People should judge CKC case on facts

I would like to respond to the letter by Alvin and Barbara Kroupa, Marion (Aug. 23). It is always interesting to see how people interpret or, in this case, misinterpret facts.

First, a request for tax exemption is through an application process that begins with the filing of the application in the county appraiser’s office. It is then sent directly to the state and not by “approaching governmental agencies with request for tax exemptions.”

This is not a prerequisite so they may apply for T-21 grant money. These are two separate issues. To mix them together in the same sentence is misleading and incorrect.

The Central Kansas Conservancy’s (CKC) application for tax exemption-and we’re only talking less than $2,000 in tax money per year with only two years on the books-has certain requirements to meet, as does any other 501(c)3 in order to qualify.

The State Board of Tax Appeals will determine if they meet these guidelines. You never know until you try.

Second, T-21 money is federal tax money that you have already paid out. To apply for this money, it must be submitted by a city, county, school district, or other governmental entity. It is not a grant program and it will be distributed to different “projects” around the country, guaranteed. This is an 80/20 match-it requires local funds of at least 20 percent that can be funded in various ways.

Think of it as going to your local grocer, who has a $10 steak that is marked down to $2 and the expiration date is weeks away.

If Kansas doesn’t have qualifying projects for these available funds, then what has been earmarked for this state could go elsewhere. Wouldn’t it be great to have Kansas benefit and be able to recoup some of that money we have paid to enhance our own state instead of pouring it into other states? You never know until you try.

The T-21, or Transportation Enhancement program, relies on communities and local governments to propose projects that improve local quality of life.

If Kansas is to benefit from this federal reimbursement program, then we need to do it cooperatively and work together. You never know until you try.

As for the taking of “property from private citizens without compensation or consequences,” it is my understanding that the original land owners were compensated.

The rail banking act was put into place to preserve the rail corridors for possible future use. The CKC has only interim use with the same rights that the railroad had with the corridor and is not “being taken” by eminent domain. Small towns were dependent upon these rail lines to survive.

After the lines are discontinued, the towns slowly start to diminish. Rail banking is a means to help to keep these communities alive. Let’s not “cut off our nose to spite our face” yet.

Let’s have the courage to stand up and be proactive and not reactive. After all, you never know until you try.

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