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Proposed tax law could affect agency funding


In an effort to give advance warning about possible funding cuts in 2013, county officials soon will be sending a letter to agencies subsidized by Ellis County funds.

During Monday night's Ellis County Commission meeting, County Administrator Greg Sund said county leaders at a recent Kansas Association of Counties conference expressed concern about the potential effect of the Property Tax Transparency Act, proposed in October by Gov. Sam Brownback.

Under the proposed legislation, cities and counties no longer automatically could raise new revenue from increased property valuations. If the county's total property value increased, elected officials would be required to reduce their property tax mill levy so property taxes remained at the same level as the previous year. To increase the property tax levy, a vote would be required.

The letter to subsidized agencies will be a "heads up" to let them know that "whatever happens in the session could affect our money to fund them in some cases," Sund said.

"This is going to be a challenge," Sund said. "I wish we had a little bit more knowledge about what's going to happen.

"There's a lot of fear at the KAC."

Commissioners agreed there is much unknown about the affect legislative changes could have on local governments.

"Let's get ahead of the game," said Commission Chairman Swede Holmgren of the agency notifications.

Sund said he will draft a letter and forward it to commissioners for their review before sending it to agencies.

Approximately $1.4 million was allocated to 13 agencies by Ellis County in 2012. Funding for social service organizations including High Plains Mental Health, Hays Area Children's Center and Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas make up more than half of those allocated dollars.