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Officials: Dept. of Ag building nearly complete

By Brady Bauman

Manhattan and Riley County leaders discussed progress on the new Kansas Department of Agriculture building and received an update on current legislative issues from Clancy Holeman, county counselor, at the Intergovernmental Luncheon Monday.

Greg Lohrentz, chief financial officer for the KSU Foundation, told those in attendance that the new ag building was nearing completion and should be ready for occupancy later this year.

Construction began in June of 2013 on the structure, near the intersection of Manhattan and Kimball avenues. The Department of Agriculture has estimated that 200 employees will staff the operation.

Meanwhile, Holeman continued what has become something of a tour, bringing various officials and groups up to date on legislative issues.

Holeman’s discussion again focused on Senate Bill 298, which would eliminate mortgage registration fees.

“(These) fees brought $47 million in revenues to counties across the state,” Holeman said. “And it’s a fee that hasn’t seen any public outcry.”

Holeman also addressed Senate Bill 231 — also known as the “COTA to BOTA” bill. If passed into law, he said the bill could complicate the process of property value appeals.

COTA stands for Court of Tax Appeals, while BOTA is the acronym for the Board of Tax Appeals.

The bill would strip away much of the judiciary power involved in tax appeals, Holeman said.

“One of the worst aspects of the bill, quite frankly, is that it will freeze property tax values for three years (if they are appealed),” Holeman said. “The bad thing about that is that fair-market value is not acting on that property (while frozen).

That’s a recipe for non-uniform and non-equal valuations.

“The constitutional requirement is that there be uniform and equal valuation, he said.

“If that doesn’t happen, potentially the constitution mandates court-ordered reappraisals, statewide.

“We’ll be right back where we were in 1989.”

Holeman brought up 1989, because that was the last time a statewide reappraisal was carried out.

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