Local gov’t. has biggest share of $3 billion property tax hike
Of the nearly $3 billion increase in property tax between 1997 and 2018, the largest share, about $1.7 billion, was consumed by local government entities (cities, counties, townships, and other local taxing districts. Education accounted for the next largest increase, of about $1.3 billion, which is mostly K-12 and community colleges.
The data comes from the Kansas Department of Revenue’s Statistical Report of Property Assessment and Taxation and Open Records requests submitted to the Property Valuation Division of KDOR.
Total property tax for 2018 was $4.9 billion, or about 151% greater than the 1997 total of $1.9 billion. Local government entities accounted for $2.7 billion, or 54% of the total, with education consuming 45% of the total at $2.2 billion. Property tax for the operation of state government is just 1% of the total.
Local government analysis
The amount of property tax collected to run local units of government varies widely across the state. In order to compare counties of disparate population, we use a per-resident cost. That’s not to say each resident spends that amount, as businesses also pay property tax; a per-resident comparison is an attempt to approximate the relative demand for services.
Leavenworth County has the lowest cost, at $579 per-resident, which could be affected by having a large military presence (people living in military housing count as residents, but property owned by the U.S. government is exempt from property tax). Sedgwick County comes in second, at $623, with three smaller counties rounding out the five best costs; (Crawford, at $626, Cherokee, at $653, and Neosho, at $668).
The five counties with the worst property tax per-resident are Greeley ($4,579), Stanton ($4,105), Coffey ($3,931), Lane ($3,792) and Kiowa ($3,418).
Local government units in two counties – Grant and Stevens – reduced their per-resident tax. The counties of Hamilton, Kearny, and Wyandotte complete the list of the five lowest percentage increase in per-resident tax. Wallace County has the highest increase, at 370%. The counties of Osage (358%), Allen (355%), Mitchell (342%), and Cheyenne (340%) are also among the five worst increases.
Property tax per-resident is generally higher in counties with very low population, but there is also significant variance among counties with similar population.
In the counties with fewer than 3,000 residents, property tax per-resident ranges from a low of $1,503 (Elk County) to a high of $4,579 (Greeley County). For counties between 3,000 and 6,000 residents, Norton County is the low taxer at $1,175 per-resident and Haskell County is the highest at $3,104.
The remaining lows and highs for other counties are:
- 6,000 to 10,000 residents: Wilson is low ($979) and Coffey is high ($3,931)
- 10,000 to 30,000 residents: Cherokee is low ($653) and Pottawatomie is high ($1,262)
- 30,000 to 100,000 residents: Leavenworth is low ($579) and Finney is high (951)
- Over 100,000 residents: Sedgwick is low (623) and Shawnee is high (922).
The complete county list follows.