Commission looks at effects of legislation on county

By The Mercury

Legislation that could affect counties was a brief topic of discussion Monday when Randall Allen, executive director of the Kansas Association of Counties, visited with Pottawatomie County commissioners.

Allen said both the Kansas House and Senate have passed budget and tax bills for fiscal year 2014, but haven’t reconciled the two versions.The biggest disagreement between the houses, Allen said, is what to do with the one-cent temporary sales tax scheduled to expire June 30.

The Senate wants to retain six-tenths percent to make up for lost revenue from income tax reductions. The House does not.County commissioners were pleased to hear there is no plan to “rob” the Special City/County Highway Fund.

However, some funding for local health departments may be in jeopardy and the burden of funding mental health is likely to fall more to local governments.

“What many of them don’t seem to understand is that adequate funding for mental health may lessen the need for such a large facility you’re building over here,” Allen said in reference to the new Pott County Justice Center. Finally, Allen said the so-called “trade fixture” legislation introduced early this session appears to be going nowhere. “It hasn’t passed either house yet and it probably won’t,”      Allen told commissioners.

The proposed legislation would exempt some “trade fixtures,” primarily at manufacturing facilities, from the appraisal process, thus reducing property tax revenues to local governments.

Statewide, the legislation would cost Kansas counties an average of 2 percent of their property tax revenue, while some counties could see a loss as high as 20 percent, according to Allen.

In other business Monday:

• Gregg Webster, zoning administrator, reported 21 building permits issued in April with a value of $3,915,595. Within the Blue Township Sewer District in the southwest portion of the county, building permits are well ahead of 2012, and could exceed last year by as much as 50 percent if it stays at the current pace for the remainder of 2013.

• The commission authorized Scott Schwinn, county sanitarian, to confer with the county counselor regarding a policy for closing the landfill earlier to commercial haulers. One commercial hauler from Onaga prompted the policy recommendation, according to Schwinn.

“We have one hauler coming in at around 4:58 and it creates problems,” Schwinn said. The late arrival forces landfill employees to either leave trash on the floor of the transfer station or to work past the 5 p.m. closing time. “It’s an issue and it happens at least two or three times a week,” Schwinn said. “This one hauler has made it a habit and I know he’s timing it (the trip to arrive just before closing time).”

Commissioners suggested a policy to close the landfill to commercial haulers at 4:15 p.m., or charge a premium for late arrivals.

• Schwinn also reported 371 vehicles visited the landfill during the free day April 6, about 100 fewer vehicles than the previous year. “We basically had somebody from everywhere in the county,” Schwinn said. “It was nice to have people taking advantage of it from throughout the county.”

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