Proposition K hearing spotlights differences


At Wednesday’s hearing before the Kansas House of Representatives Taxation Committee, different ideas about property taxation became clear. The subject of the hearing was Proposition K, a proposal to reform property tax appraisals in Kansas. On this day, proponents of Proposition K testified.

Questioning by Representative Nile Dillmore, Democrat from Wichita, provided an example of these differences. Dillmore asked about “infill” development, questioning the fairness of Proposition K. What about someone building a new house across the street from older houses? The new home might have cost $200 per square foot to build, while the old home is not worth anywhere near that much. “It seems patently unfair to me that situation would exist,” he said.

Underlying Dillmore’s question, I believe, is refusal to either understand or to buy in to one of Proposition K’s tenets, which is a move away from property taxation based on wealth. Instead, Proposition K is based on a “fixed-share” concept of funding government.

In answering the question, Professor Art Hall, the author of Proposition K, used this illustration: Suppose the new house being built across the street from a modest house has granite counters and other fancy (and expensive) appointments, but is the same size as the older home. “What is it about that choice that makes their stake in the local public services double what their neighbors’ are?”

Rep. Dillmore turned the answer around, asking “Why am I being asked to pay the same property values as the guy with the castle?”

It should be noted that under Proposition K the new construction would be valued based on the size of the structure. So if Rep. Dillmmore, by using the term “castle” means a large new house, it would pay more in taxes than the smaller surrounding houses. But a new house of same size would pay the same taxes as other nearby houses, even if it is built to luxury standards.

At other times during the hearing it was mentioned that this might encourage construction of new houses in older neighborhoods. That seems like something that proponents of older parts of cities might welcome.

This pushback by Dillmore is typical of those who benefit from the existing system. This system produces large increases in revenue for government without the need for elected officials to raise tax rates. For those who desire and thrive on increasing government spending — this includes the public school and local government lobbies — Proposition K will shine sunlight on this practice.

It should be noted that Dillmore’s wife is Janet Miller, a candidate for Wichita city council. It was under her leadership as president of the Wichita Board of Park Commissioners that a very expensive plan for parks in Wichita was announced. Reform measures such as Proposition K will mean that the funding for plans like these will be more transparent to citizens.

Coverage of this Proposition K hearing is available at Kansas House hears support for property tax proposals; foes to speak today. An illustration of how the combined affect of rising appraisals and rising mill levies creates large inflows of tax revenues for a school district can be found at Wichita School District Tax Revenues Rise Rapidly.


4 responses to “Proposition K hearing spotlights differences”

  1. steve brunk

    Opponents of this bill, almost all from a government entity(particularly county and state appraisers), are falling back on the old “it’s unconstitutional” argument to scare legislators and the public away. But this time their tactics won’t work. Prop K was assessed by constitutional attorneys before we introduced the bill and it passes the test of uniform and equal. It is revenue neutral, provides stability within the taxing system, gives property owners a great deal of predictability for their future taxes, and brings complete transparency to the system. So far government officials that enjoy ever increasing revenues from taxpayers without having to be accountable don’t like prop k …. but taxpayers absolutely love it.

  2. Nile Dillmore

    Proponents of Prop K state that property owners are tired of “stealth” tax increases because the value of their home increases. I understand the kernel of truth here, just because the value of property increases does not mean there is a corresponding increase for services.

    They argue that Prop K creates more transparency by forcing an increase in the mill levy rather than an increase in values to generate additional revenue for local government.

    My point is that taxpayers have that transparency now. As values increase they have the right to demand a corresponding decrease in the mill levy and they have the political systems to elect those who respond to that message.

  3. Anonymous

    I would like to not give my name:
    However, I have been telling the appraisers for yrs. that if my appraisals were to go up a little each time that would be far and reasonable. It’s about time someone sees it that way as well. Our appraisals have gone up over 50,000 or more in the last 9-10 yrs. just because we have a big home and everyone around us has not changed by much. I feel that they use us as a target and out of those 9-10 yrs,I have fought our appraisals 9 times out of ten. The answer last time was that we are underappraised and that is why they keep coming after us time after time. Now, you tell me how that is fair!!!!
    The cost of which you are NOT to even discuss is why you go and fight your appraisals in the first place. Our taxes when we bought our home were $800.00 a yr. now they are $2100.00 a yr. and that
    is only because we have fought our appraisals or they would be much more than they are now. They want to know why so many homes are for sale?!?!? Ya, think its because of the high appraisals.???
    When you do go fight for your say you NEVER get the same answer twice as to why!!!!!! I LOVE the propositionK it is a fair and reasonable way to do it RIGHT!!!!!
    Its about time!!!!
    You sure do have our vote and all the rest of us hard working people who own homes!!!

  4. At recent meetings I stated that Pop K would never pass with every municipality and county government against it. And frankly the public does not understand it. The only way to get this passed on the State level is to start with Wichita and Seg. Co.. We need to lead the way. I proposed a 1% sales tax to reduce residential property taxes be placed on the April ballot. With key elements of Prop K.. It elicited the response I expected. I have started a petition drive to get the 10,000 signatures required for it to be placed on the ballot. We currently have 1000 signatures, with robocalls and TV adds set to run. Any body interested can go “” and read about it and download the petition. A 1% sales tax would show as a credit on residential property tax bills and should almost pay the full current mill levy. This would be a great boon for senior citizens and fixed income home owners.

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