No New Sedgwick County Sales Tax Without Property Tax Elimination: Taxpayer Protection is Needed


A press release from the Peterjohn for County Commissioner campaign

23 July 2008

The Wichita Eagle’s lead story July 23 mentions a new county proposal to raise a new local sales tax to cover a variety of new spending programs. A variety of new or expanded county spending projects were mentioned in this article.

There is a history of trying to shift taxes. Sometimes this has been done to intentionally raise additional revenue (see 1992 statewide tax hike) or to shift from property to sales tax (1984 in Sedgwick County) and expand other spending. Sadly, the net effect in almost all of these case has been expanding tax revenues for government. This is a reason why we need to proceed carefully and with a detailed plan.

“There should not be any new local sales tax until the following steps occur,” said Karl Peterjohn, candidate for the 3rd district county commission seat. “First, any new local sales tax should eliminate the county’s current 31.3 mill property tax. By my rough estimate this would require a sales tax of approximately 1.5-to-1 5/8 cents to be revenue neutral for the county. At the same time protection must be provided to taxpayers to prevent property taxes from rising again.”

“Voter protection can be provided by a requirement that all county taxes receive voter approval before being raised. The county cannot raise sales taxes without voter approval. This protection for taxpayers must also be provided for all other new or existing county taxes too,” said Peterjohn.

“Second, the county must go to the state to receive authorization before it could implement this tax shift from property to sales (or tax on capital to one on consumption). That can’t happen until the 2009 legislature. I believe that a county wide sales tax that eliminates the existing county mill levy would be a net positive for economic growth in our community by cutting total property taxes by over 25% for most taxpayers in our county.

“Many businesses currently seek property tax abatements due to the high level of property taxes in our county. Eliminating the county’s property taxes would be very economically stimulative and would provide an overall property tax reduction for all homeowners, farmers, and businesses. Roughly 10-to-15% of retail sales in this county occur from purchases made by folks who do not live in Sedgwick County,” Peterjohn said.

“Sadly, there are a number of cases where shifting from property to sales taxes has provided a permanent increase in sales taxes and only temporary property tax relief. One example is just up the road in Shawnee County. That is why it is imperative that any new local sales tax hike contain ironclad provisions to protect county taxpayers. It is also imperative that we should eliminate the county’s property tax with any new local sales tax proposal.”

Donations to the campaign can be mailed to the address listed below. A paypal account is available to accept on line donations at the campaign web site. There is a limit of $500 per person or business for contributions made until the August 5 primary.

Peterjohn for County Commissioner
PO Box 8734
Wichita, 67208

Discolsure: I am one of the campaign co-managers for this candidate.


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