We routinely see media sharing false information and if it appears to be an innocent mistake, we first give them an opportunity to correct their own mistake. Last month, the Kansas City Business Journal inaccurately stated that Johnson County accounted for 34 percent of the property tax paid in Kansas, with Sedgwick County in second place and paying 17 percent of the state’s total property tax. We shared Department of Revenue data with the Business Journal showing their reporting to be wildly inaccurate and even had a KDOR official send them confirmation of the accurate numbers. Unfortunately, Editor Brian Kaberline declines to set the record straight, so we must do so now.
Johnson County property tax accounted for only paid 24 percent of the total and Sedgwick County contributed 12 percent, not 34 percent and 17 percent, respectively, as reported. It’s impossible to say why the KCBJ numbers were so far off because they declined to share their calculations, but it could be something as as simple as grossly understating the $4.359 billion in total property taxes paid.
Predictably, falsely reporting that Johnson County property tax was a third of all state property taxes led to multiple social media posts noting the unfairness of the situation, and that’s the real damage done by perpetuating bad information.
Johnson County residents do have a legitimate beef with local elected officials on their property taxes, as county and most city taxes have grown more than twice as fast as population and inflation combined. The solution, however, is to reduce city and county mill rates rather than ask citizens of other counties to pay more.
Everyone makes mistakes and when that happens, the best course of action is to admit the error and move on. I say this from personal experience. Honesty builds integrity and it also retracts misleading information that can have unintended consequences if left to stand.