County approves rebate program
Basehor's proposed tax rebate program has cleared all its hurdles, gaining approval from the Leavenworth County Commission.
Commissioners on Thursday, Oct. 8, approved the program in a 2-1 vote with Commissioner Clyde Graeber opposed.
The program, which expires in 2012, offers a property tax rebate of 100 percent for three years and 50 percent for an additional three years on new residential structures. It also offers a rebate of 85 percent for three years and 25 percent for three additional years on new commercial structures.
To qualify for the rebate program, structures must be appraised at a minimum of $140,000. The rebate applies only to the portion of property taxes that would go to the city of Basehor.
Commissioner J.C. Tellefson said he believed the program was a positive step that would fuel economic growth in Basehor, thus spurring expansion and generating revenue in Leavenworth County.
“I think it’s a very creative idea, and I will support it enthusiastically,” Tellefson said. “If we don’t do it, we make 100 percent of nothing.”
Graeber said he was concerned the county would lose money because of the plan, specifically on houses that would have been built regardless of the rebate program.
“You're not losing anything you don't already have,” Basehor City Council member David Breuer told commissioners. “We're trying to stay competitive with our neighbors to the east.”
Breuer stressed the necessity of a competitive advantage with cities like Bonner Springs and Kansas City, Kan., that have similar rebate programs that could potentially lure potential homeowners away from Basehor.
“I think the Basehor community and Leavenworth County is a fabulous place to live,” Breuer said. “We have to get onboard and be aggressive to compete with other cities.”
In addition to the eventual revenue from property taxes on new homes and businesses, Breuer pointed out the city and county would also reap the benefits of added shopping and more students in schools.
Commissioner John Flower said he saw the plan as having only the potential to help the county and Basehor.
“Anything that promotes and sells the county… I’m in for it,” Flower said. “It seems to me to be revenue neutral and expense neutral in the first part. And it seems then to be revenue positive and expense positive in the long run.”
One problem with the plan, Graeber said, is it could rebate taxes to one person who was inside the eligiblility requirements of the program and not rebate taxes to that person’s next-door neighbors.
“We have Mary Jones over here getting 95 percent of her taxes back, and Mary Smith pays the full load,” Graeber said. “And they live right next to each other. That doesn’t seem right.”
Flower said he understood this complaint, but his assessment of it was simply, “life happens.”
Along with the new program, the county also approved the extension of an existing rebate program for rehabilitation of properties in Basehor that allows for a 95 percent rebate on residential property taxes for five years, 50 percent on commercial property taxes for five years and 50 percent on industrial property taxes for 10 years.
The program has been in effect since 2001 and will now run until 2014.
The new rebate program already had gained approval from the Basehor City Council, Basehor Community Library, Fairmount Township Fire District and Basehor-Linwood School District, and it is now in full effect retroactive to a July 1, 2009, start date.