Commission troubled by state budget actions

Marion County Board of Commissioners chairman Dan Holub called Monday for a 20-minute session to discuss county problems caused by actions of the Kansas Legislature.

Holub said legislators are considering easing the state?s budget problems by adding a $3 per acre excise property tax for all landowners.

Holub said that might not add up to much for city owners of lots less than an acre, but it could be ?devastating? for farmers on large acreages required for food production.

The proposed tax would add $480 annually to the cost of owning 160 acres of land.

The legislature?s real problem, he said, is that it has continually exempted taxes on things such as manufacturing equipment. This has been done, he said, in attempts to draw industries from neighboring states, notably from Missouri, to build in urban Johnson County.

?They call it granting exemptions,? Holub said. ?I call it incompetency.?

The process has led to a situation where ?nothing for counties is safe,? according to Holub.

?By statute we have to pay them what is owed, but they don?t have to pay us what they owe us by statute,? he said. ?When they give tax breaks, local taxpayers are being asked to absorb the difference. They continually cut programs for us. It?s illegal for us to follow their morality.?

Commissioner Randy Dallke said, ?My personal feeling is we?ve got to have taxes to operate on, and I haven?t seen their whole picture.?

Commissioner Lori Lalouette said the situation merits commissioners studying the situation for the benefit of their constituents.

Holub said, ?They accuse us, and it?s them that don?t have the honesty and integrity.?

He said the Kansas Asso?ciation of Counties, the Kansas League of Munici?pal?ities and Kansas school districts have all joined in monitoring the Legislature because they don?t like what they are seeing.

Steve Hudson, Marion County Lake and Park superintendent, told the commissioners volunteers have raked and cleaned the beach areas at the lake while the road and bridge department hauled in two truckloads of sand for the swimming area.

Road and bridge also hauled in five loads of rock screenings for five 4-inch by 4-inch disc golf posts at the lake, he said.

Hudson has budgeted $8,000 to buy a new lawn mower, but plans to keep the old one as a backup.

Visitors to the lake are enjoying seeing four baby foxes that live in a culvert and ?lots of baby geese and ducks,? Hudson said.

Teresa Huffman, county economic development director, reviewed proposed developments such as moving a hot water heater to a bathroom to give more room in the kitchen.

She said the additional space is needed under a regional state grant to Marion County to help develop commercial kitchen businesses.

The commissioners granted a neighborhood revitalization reduction of property tax for new Marion resident Kent Lachman on a 32-foot by 26-foot lot south of the water plant.

The commissioners met for 30 minutes with Gail Makovec and Road and Bridge Director Randy Crawford to consider Makovec?s application to be department foreman. It was followed by 10 minutes in executive session with only Crawford, followed by five minutes with both men, all for personnel.

The commissioners agreed to forgive unpaid property taxes on a lot at 530 Walnut in Marion to allow the city of Marion to purchase the property to meet federal Homeland Security standards for more space around the city?s water plant.

The commissioners met with County Clerk Tina Spencer for five minutes in executive session for personnel.

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