Official: Mortgage tax bill stalled

By The Mercury

Proposed legislation to eliminate the Mortgage Registration Tax in Kansas has apparently stalled following a hearing before a legislative committee.

Register of Deeds Betty Abitz told Pott County Commissioners Monday there has been no action on the legislation since the recent hearing which she and Commissioner Gary Yenzer attended in the state capitol.

“I think they weren’t expecting quite the show or the testimony they got,” Abitz said. “They definitely are reconsidering it.”

The Kansas Bankers’ Association and the Kansas Association of Realtors had proposed eliminating the tax, which imposes a .26 percent fee on all new mortgages filed. They feel the tax is unfair since mortgages involving federal loan programs are exempt, according to Abitz.

Last month the county commission adopted a resolution opposing elimination of the tax since it generates a considerable amount of revenue for the county.

The tax brought in close to $1 million for Pott County the past two years, although normal revenue would be less than half that amount.

The past two years were anomalies due to “major refinancing” by utilities taking advantage of low interest rates, according to Robert Reece, county administrator.

Abitz said she would keep the commission informed of any further developments in the proposed legislation.

In other business Monday:

• Leu Lowrey, public works director, said it took four days to open all county roadways following the 12-inch snowfall last week.

“We finished up Friday,” Lowrey said, adding that operators were still out pushing snow back to widen driving lanes.

In answer to a question from Commissioner Pat Weixelman, Lowrey said there is no priority system for clearing roads unless there is an emergency.

“We set up a route that’s the most efficient to get as many roads open as quickly as possible,” Lowrey said.

“We want to help anybody we can, but we try to be as efficient as we can to get the roads open for everybody.”

Commission Chairman Stan Hartwich applauded Lowrey and his road crews, noting that “Somebody’s got to be first and somebody’s got to be last.”

• The commission approved an agreement with Truesdell Corporation for an engineering analysis of the Belvue bridge at a cost of $39,500. The Wabaunsee County Commission approved the agreement last week.

The study will determine whether or not the bridge deck is a candidate for a polyester concrete overlay, a repair remedy which could save the counties millions of dollars.

• The commission renewed an economic development property tax exemption for Liberty, Inc. The 10-year exemption began in January of 2006, and will expire December 31, 2015.

• Tim Eisenbarth, noxious weed director, said the county recycled a total of 877,358 pounds of material in 2013, bringing in revenues of $19,378.

More than half that total — 460,100 pounds — was cardboard, which generated $15,561 of the total revenue.

On a related matter, Eisenbarth said he was still looking for a larger machine which would make cardboard baling much more efficient.

Eisenbarth also said it would cost about $20,000 to install three-phase electrical power to operate a larger baler.

A less expensive option would be to install a 400-amp converter at a cost of around $7,600, he said.

• At the recommendation of Scott Schwinn, county sanitarian, the commission approved Saturday, April 5, as the annual spring free day at the county landfill.

“It’s a busy day, but the public has come to expect it,” Schwinn said.

• Zoning administrator Gregg Webster reported nine building permits issued in January with a total value of $2,471,193.

“It was a pretty darn good month for a January,” Webster said.

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