As they do every year, the Butler County Commissioners put together a list of their top priorities ahead of a meeting with state legislators.
The commissioners plan to meet with state representatives next week in Benton and sometimes later in Topeka.
During Monday’s meeting, the commissioners formally approved their 2013 legislative agenda. Items on the list include:
• Support KDOT funding for systems upgrades to state communications system - Butler County recently agreed to join the state of Kansas 800 mhz radio system managed by KDOT and spent significant local dollars to upgrade the county’s system to be compatible with the state system. After agreeing to join the system and upgrade the county’s system, KDOT informed the county it will be assessed annual charges for system upgrades in the amount of $54,200 and escalating amounts in future years. These costs were not planned or budgeted for and the Butler County Commission believes these costs should be paid by KDOT. The system benefits the whole state and those counties who enhanced their systems also enhanced the capabilities of state users in those areas as well. They believe these costs should be budgeted for and paid by KDOT in the future and not spread to other users.
• Fixture tax exemption - Butler County opposes any expansion of the property tax exemption for machinery and equipment, and specifically opposed expanding the exemption to include fixtures. An expansion of this exemption further erodes the property tax base and transfers the burden of the property tax to residential, agricultural and small commercial taxpayers.
• Allow counties to have a position on abates that occur in their county - From time to time the Kansas legislature enacts specific bills granting ad valorem tax exemptions for specific qualifying businesses as a business tax incentive. Local units of government also have the ability to offer similar incentives through industrial revenue bonds or tax exemptions, but the incentives are based upon specific achievement of benchmarks established by local resolution or state requirements. Too often the statutory exemptions enacted by the state conflict with local policy and may be detrimental to specific organizations. Butler County requests legislation allowing counties and cities be allowed to participate in the abatement process for businesses that are located in their jurisdiction. Specifically local units of government should be allowed to either approve or disapprove pending statutory abatements occurring in their jurisdiction and it abates are granted at the state level local units of government should be compensated for the exemption.
• Support uniform funding of community colleges statewide to equalize the impact from regional institutions - The current funding structure of county community colleges as regional learning institutions from countywide property taxes places counties where colleges are located at a direct disadvantage to neighboring counties as a result of the property tax rate levied by the college, while experiencing a direct benefit from the regional location of the institution.
Page 2 of 2 - • Support the reinstatement of revenue sharing to local governments from the Local Ad Valorem Reduction (LAVTR) fund and the city-county revenue sharing fund.
In other business, the commission:
• approved a request by Christopher and Ann Brackenridge for a homestead lot split with agricultural protection overlay in order to separate an existing homestead and 10 acres from a parcel containing approximately 58.6 acres.
• approved a request by Gary L. Bey on behalf of Heartland Towing to allow the use of property in the AG-40 agricultural zoning district for an auto towing and recovery business.
• held a public hearing on budget amendments for the detention facility, fire district #7 and special park and recreation fund.
• held a work session to discuss potential changes to the Juvenile Justice Authority.
• approved the 10 senior center contracts for 2013.
• granted approval for Keri Korthals of Butler County Emergency Management to travel to Washington, D.C. on behalf of the Kansas Emergency Management Association at no cost to Butler County.
• approved a contract with Mobile Radio Service for continuation of radio system maintenance for 2013 in the amount of $62,092.
• approved the contract with Motorola Solutions for continuation of radio system technical support for 2013 in the amount of $8,883.
• approved a proposal for digital ortho photography and bridge project mapping work for Butler County.
• denied a request to approve a settlement agreement with Marlena Sue Fee in the amount of $5,000. In September 2010, Fee was a passenger on a motorcycle. The motorcycle hit a pothole, and she was jarred. She has sued TransCanada, Butler County and the motorcycle driver with whom she was riding. The commissioners did not think the county had any liability and did not want to set a precedent, so they did not approve the settlement.
• approved resolution 12-41 designating the Augusta Gazette as the official county newspaper for 2013.
• approved resolution 12-42 establishing the 2013 elected official salaries. None of the elected officials received a raise.
• approved the 2013 county holidays.