More than 1,300 local taxing authorities ranging from fire districts and cemeteries to cities, school districts, and counties across Kansas have announced that they will not raise property taxes this year. Those proposing increases will be hosting public hearings about whether to exceed their revenue-neutral rate.
According to the Truth-in-Taxation law passed in 2021, taxing entities that want to collect more property tax next year than is budgeted this year must notify taxpayers of their intent to do so, including the percentage increase above revenue-neutral, and the time, date, and location of a public. Reports were to be filed with the county clerk by July 20th, and all hearings must occur between August 20th and September 20th. Then, elected officials must vote on the tax increase they impose.
Over the past month through KORA requests, Kansas Policy Institute has compiled a database on KansasOpenGov.org, showing what each taxing authority is proposing. As of today, 31 counties haven’t responded with the RNR information.
About half of taxing entities reporting thus far are not proposing a tax increase. Of the 74 counties reporting thus far, 11 are not exceeding their revenue-neutral rate. 22 school districts and 157 cities reporting in thus far are also not exceeding their revenue-neutral rate.
Big hikes are happening all around the state. USD 311 in Reno County is exceeding its RNR by 83.1%, which includes an increase from 1.931 to 31.25 in mills for the district’s Bond and Interest. The city of Spring Hill in Johnson County is exceeding its RNR by 20.4%, and the city’s recreation commission is exceeding its RNR by 21.4%. Townships in Sedgwick County have high tax hikes on their mind: Grand River Townships plans to exceed by 85.9%, and Gypsum, Morton, Attica, and Eagle Townships are all exceeding between 31.5% to 37.4%.
Last year, Truth-in-Taxation legislation contributed to taxpayers in 21 counties not paying higher property taxes. Taxpayers in another 47 counties had less than 3% net tax increases. Truth-in-Taxation is a step towards greater transparency and accountability in local budgeting. Still, its success depends on residents speaking up at hearings in their community about affordability and spending.