Two of the top officials at the Kansas Department of Revenue stepped down this month shortly after Gov. Sam Brownback appointed a new revenue secretary, who is expected to make changes to the department.
Steve Stotts, the state’s director of taxation, retired last week after more than 30 years of service to the state. Stotts oversaw tax collections and has played a major role in informing lawmakers about tax policy in recent legislative sessions.
His retirement, less than a month before the legislative session begins, comes shortly after Brownback named Wichita businessman Sam Williams as the agency’s acting secretary.
Williams said he received a notification last week that Stotts would retire last Friday and that his departure was not Williams’ decision. He praised Stotts’ “great service” to the state.
Stotts could not be reached for comment.
“We’re treating it like replacing any other director level position, and we are searching for a replacement,” said Jeannine Koranda, spokeswoman for the agency.
The Department of Revenue also will have to replace Jim Conant, the agency’s director of resource management. He left the agency Dec. 9, after the announcement of Williams’ appointment but three days before Williams began serving as acting secretary.
“That was B.S.: Before Sam,” Williams said. “There were a couple changes in staff that happened before I changed to the Revenue Department.”
Conant declined to comment when contacted.
Koranda said both jobs are “key positions and we’ll replace them with the best possible person.”
Brownback announced in the first week of December that Nick Jordan, a former lawmaker, would step down as revenue secretary after six years in the job and that Williams, who mounted an unsuccessful campaign for mayor of Wichita in 2015, would serve as his replacement.
Asked whether the changeover played any role in the departure of the division heads, Koranda said, “They decided it was their time to retire.”
Williams headed up a task force earlier in the year that recommended a number of changes to the state’s revenue estimating process, including a controversial proposal to end monthly comparisons of revenue against estimates.
The state has struggled to meet revenue estimates for the past two years. Williams’ task force recommended that including industry representatives — such as bankers and certified public accountants — and pushing back the date of estimates from April to May will lead to more accurate estimates.
Williams’ appointment will go before the Kansas Senate for a confirmation vote during the upcoming session.