A recent advertisement by Sedgwick County Commission Candidate Marcey Gregory in the October 12, 2008 Wichita Eagle contained a few points that deserve comment and clarification.
First, the ad, as part of a checklist of attributes or characteristics of Gregory, has the item “Lower taxes.” If she’s proclaiming that we need lower taxes, voters only need to be reminded that in August, the City of Goddard, of which Gregory is the mayor, raised the property tax rate by a large amount. She supported this tax rate increase even though Goddard, as a growing city, experiences rapidly growing assessed value, and therefore rapidly rising tax collections. (See What Ray Frederick Forgot to Include about Marcey Gregory.)
Another item in the list is “Citizen voice in property tax valuation increases — Elect, don’t appoint, the County Appraiser.” Whether this is a good idea is open to discussion. Currently, there aren’t very many elected appraisers. That might be because the most prominent city with an elected appraiser — actually several — is Orleans Parish in Louisiana, which has the same boundaries as the City of New Orleans. That city and its system of elected appraisers richly deserves its reputation for political corruption.
Another item is “Protect and grow our tax base.” Gregory’s received the endorsement of the Wichita Chamber of Commerce and public support from some of the aircraft industry. Many of the Chamber member companies and these aircraft plants frequently appear before the Wichita City Council seeking property and sales tax exemptions. These exemptions, by removing property from the tax rolls, weaken the tax base. Does Gregory plan to eliminate these tax exemptions? That would protect our tax base — if that’s what she means to do.
The list of items for Karl Peterjohn, her opponent, contains one item, repeated twice for emphasis: “Paid lobbyist.” It’s a convenient slur, as right now lobbyists are held in low regard. But who has Peterjohn lobbied for? The answer: the taxpayers of Kansas, working against the type of tax increases that Gregory ushered in as mayor of Goddard.
Bob Weeks is one of the two campaign managers for Karl Peterjohn, Marcey Gregory’s opponent.