By MIKE COURSON
Great Bend Post
The property valuations that arrived in the mail last week dropped jaws not just in Barton County, but all around Kansas. Residentials in Barton County were up approximately 20 percent from a year ago, compared to nearly 15 percent increases in Leavenworth County, a 13-percent increase in Shawnee County, and a 12-percent increase in Johnson County.
State legislators are working on ways to minimize the impact on property owners. Barton County Commissioner Barb Esfeld works each Friday with Sen. Caryn Tyson and a handful of others. Esfeld detailed a proposed plan during Wednesday's commission meeting.
"We first called ourselves the 'Keep Kansans in their Home,'" Esfeld said. "We're a very unofficial group. Now, we're just called the 'Brainstormers' because we're just trying to think of any way we can to help Kansans and lower property taxes."
Esfeld said a proposed bill was in the works that would cap property value increases at five percent for the purpose of taxation. County appraisers, by law, are required to set the valuation at fair market value. They would still remain compliant, but the taxable figure would be capped.
"She would still do her job," Esfeld said. "The value would still come out. And it would be effective for this year. But at that point in time, we won't see as commissioners and counties, and individual constituents and taxpayers, we won't see our assessed value go up over five percent."
The bill had yet to be introduced as of Thursday morning. Another proposed bill to the Kansas Constitution would lower the amount collected from residential properties from 11.5 percent to nine percent. Experts say even with this reduction, 48 percent of all property tax collected in the state would come from residential property.