A joint 2016 legislative platform for Johnson County government and cities in Johnson County focuses on a number of money issues. The draft position statement is now circulating among cities for their approval.
At the top of the list is repeal of the property tax lid that was passed by the legislature in 2015. That provision required voter approval for cities to institute property tax increases that exceed the consumer price index. The move was roundly criticized by cities and counties when it was passed.
If an all-out repeal is not enacted, the Johnson County legislative platform says, a number of issues must be addressed, including conflicts with the election calendar and budget timeline that would make it difficult to get voter approval in a timely manner.
The platform says that the local tax burden has shifted too far to residential property taxes due to state policy changes, Any changes that would narrow the tax base or apply further exemptions are opposed by the governments. The platform does support continued sales tax exemption on public construction projects arguing that otherwise it would force an increase in local property taxes.
Continuing the commitment to transportation funding is important and the current funding level is “far from adequate to address ongoing statewide infrastructure” needs. “Therefore, it is critical for our state highway funds to be used for the purpose they are collected.” Highway funds have been used to balance budget shortfalls.
The draft platform also makes a strong statement about local control: “Our local communities across the state are best served and citizens’ values and standards are best reflected when local taxing and spending are determined by local voters and taxpayers, we support the retention and strengthening of local home rule authority to allow locally elected officials to conduct the business of their jurisdiction in a manner that best reflects the desires of their constituents and results in maximum benefit to that community.“