Senators assessing idea of elections for county appraisers in Kansas

March 24, 2017

By Tim Carpenter

A Senate committee dropped into the legislative hopper a bill requiring election of the people now appointed by county commissions to appraise property for tax purposes.

The proposal by Sen. Larry Alley, R-Winfield, would place county or district appraisers on ballots starting with the general election in November 2018. County property appraisers were elected in Kansas until about 1974, when appointing authority was given to county commissions.

“The election brings that down to a local level,” said Allen, who had the reform folded this week into a bill before the Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee.

His amendment replaced contents of Senate Bill 167, which would have repealed a mandate in place since Jan. 1 that city and county governments seek voter consent for budgets triggering higher property taxes. The objective of the original bill was to eliminate the property tax lid from state law.

Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, said election of county appraisers could inject an overt political component into valuations of property on the tax rolls.

“What type of a can of worms are we opening?” Holland said. “What’s going to be their campaign slogan?”

House Minority Leader Jim Ward, D-Wichita, agreed there were problems with forcing up to 105 county appraisers to become partisan operatives. He said there was no justification in “turning county appraisers into politicians.”

However, Olathe Republican Sen. Julia Lynn said she didn’t believe elections would tarnish the property valuation process.

“I don’t see this as turning political,” she said, “because this is people’s money.”

This article was originally published on the Topeka Capital-Journal website, here.