Kansas municipal, school board groups oppose bond financing changes in tax bill

by Celia Llopis-Jepsen, Kansas News Service

Local governments and school boards are worried about the possible effects on infrastructure and other projects if Congress passes a tax bill that eliminates exemptions for certain refinancing of bonds.

The Kansas Association of School Boards, which includes most of the state’s 286 boards of education, is urging its members to contact Sens. Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts — both Kansas Republicans — about voting against the bill.

And the League of Kansas Municipalities, which represents more than 500 town and city governments, wrote to Congress earlier this month with the National League of Cities and similar associations in 25 other states calling the potential bond refunding changes “a direct hit” to city budgets.

The changes would eliminate “a tool for responding to a sharp economic downturn because the lower interest rates that make an advance refunding feasible and attractive are typically sparked by a broader slowdown in the economy,” the letter said. “In that scenario, municipalities will lose economically-sensitive revenues like sales taxes, so the ability to manage otherwise fixed costs like the debt service bill is particularly valuable.”

Leah Fliter of the Kansas Association of School Boards said advance bond refunding is “not unlike refinancing your mortgage.”

The association encouraged members to reach out to Roberts and Moran through social media. The bill “siphons money from public education,” according to the association.

Michael Byerly, a spokesman for Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins, a Kansas Republican who voted in favor of the House’s version of the tax bill, said “the ultimate goal of tax reform is to eliminate as many loopholes as possible, bring down tax rates for all American families and get our economy on the right fiscal track.”

Byerly said the bill is “far from becoming law” and that Jenkins had heard concerns about the bond matter from cities and other potentially affected entities.

“Congresswoman Jenkins will continue to work to improve the bill and debate this provision with her colleagues as the legislative process continues,” he said.

A spokesman for Moran didn’t specify the senator’s stance on the bond financing exemption but said he “is determined to pass tax reform, and the Senator continues to work with his colleagues to accomplish that.”

Other members of Kansas’ congressional delegation didn’t respond for request for comment.

Melissa Wangemann, general counsel for the Kansas Association of Counties, said counties also use bonding to help build roads or carry out other infrastructure projects.

The bond-related tax exemption “obviously keeps the cost lower and makes it a more attractive financing tool.”

Both the Kansas Association of Counties and the National Association of Counties have notified their members about the potential effects of the changes. The groups said the type of refunding in question saved taxpayers at least $3 billion last year.

As the Senate moves toward a tax bill vote — the House has already passed its version — other potential changes worry concern government officials in Kansas and elsewhere. That includes the possibility Congress will rein in federal deductions for state and local taxes.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen is a reporter for the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. You can reach her on Twitter @Celia_LJ. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to kcur.org.

See more at http://kcur.org/post/kansas-municipal-school-board-groups-oppose-bond-financing-changes-tax-bill.

Prairie Village man indicted on robbery charge

A Prairie Village man was indicted Wednesday on charges he robbed a shoe store, and attempted to rob a credit union, U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said.

John P. Gail, 49, Prairie Village, Kan., was charged with one count of commercial robbery, and one count of attempted robbery of a Credit Union. The indictment alleges that on Sept. 10, 2017, he robbed Payless Shoe Source at 4824 S. 4th St. in Leavenworth, Kan.

In addition, the indictment alleges that on Sept. 11, 2017, Gail attempted to rob the Community America Credit Union at 13590 S. Blackbob in Olathe, Kan.

If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 on each count. The FBI, the Leavenworth Police Department and the Olathe Police Department investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tris Hunt is prosecuting.

Proposal for youth home on tonight’s UG agenda

A youth residential facility at 6261 Leavenworth Road is on tonight’s Unified Government Commission meeting agenda.

The meeting will be at 7 p.m. Nov. 30 at the Commission Chambers, City Hall, lobby level, 701 N. 7th St., Kansas City, Kansas.

The facility, formerly a Medicalodge nursing home, is proposed to be Avery’s Village, a home for youth with possibly 50 youth housed there. The Kansas City, Kansas, Planning Commission has recommended a maximum of 50 children there the first year, with the applicant requesting an additional 20 children for the second year.

The planning commission and staff have recommended approval of the project for a two-year special use permit. The item is on the consent agenda and will be voted on with other items unless it is taken off the consent agenda at the meeting.

A protest petition was filed against the project by residents, however, according to the planning records in the agenda, two persons have removed their names from the opposition, and the protest petition was ruled invalid.

According to the UG agenda, the project will be for youth ages 5 to 17. The applicant has said there will be three shifts, with 10 people on the first shift and second shift, and seven people on the third shift.

It came before the UG Commission Aug. 31 and was referred to go back to the Planning Commission for more discussion and clarification.

The Leavenworth Road Association is opposed to the facility’s location, according to Lou Braswell, executive director. The facility is in a residential neighborhood on a busy street. The LRA is not opposed to the project being located somewhere else, such as somewhere with more green space, she added.

“We don’t feel the facility is a safe area when there’s no green space to speak of, 63rd is a busy intersection, Leavenworth Road is busy, there is a parking lot in front and on the side,” Braswell said. There have been some fatal accidents at that intersection from speeding vehicles. “We just feel there could be a better place.”

The applicant, however, has stated that there is a garden and a gazebo at the former nursing home that will serve as outdoor space for children.

The perfect place for a home for youth would be off the main street, in a big farmhouse with lots of land around it, where the kids could have some space and freedom, Braswell said. “How do you tell the kids to go out and play in the parking lot?” she asked.

“We don’t feel they could give a real home atmosphere to the kids, not 50 of them at once,” she said.

Braswell said some of the opponents of the project are in the Leavenworth Road Association, and some of the opponents are residents appearing on their own. There have been some comments from residents concerned about their property values declining.

Avery’s Village is not the only social service item on the UG agenda tonight.

Also on the agenda is a change of zone from limited business district to garden apartment district for a facility that would provide short-term residence to youth in foster care at 316 to 344 N. 38th St. This is proposed by KVC Foundation. It is the former Brown’s florist location. It was an adult day care business from 2012 to 2014.

According to the agenda, the home would be for youth 6 to 18 years old, with up to 20 youth there. A total of 20 people may be employed.

Another UG agenda item is a change of zone, planned limited business district, to modify a previous 2005 approval to provide overnight units for up to 10 people for a maximum of 10 days at 1301 N. 47th St., from Wyandot Inc. There will be 24-hour assessment with sobering beds and crisis observation, according to the agenda.

The Healthy Campus project is also on the Thursday night agenda. See http://www.wyandottedaily.com/healthy-campus-project-on-thursday-nights-ug-agenda/ for more information.

Other items on Thursday night’s 7 p.m. UG meeting agenda include:
– 32 N. 74th St., special use permit for temporary use of land to keep a storage container.
– 3552 N. 47th St., special use permit for a maximum of 12 goats.
– 1411 N. 47th St., renewal of a special use permit to keep one horse.
– 5025 Muncie Drive, renewal of a special use permit for a trailer for monthly meetings and to keep supplies, Hilltop Saddle Club.
– 3415 N. 63rd, renewal of special use permit for two goats.
– 342 S. Bethany St., vacation of right-of-way, BHC Rhodes for the Board of Public Utilities.
– 4229 Swartz Road, rezoning ordinance from limited business district to single family district.
– 3928 Rainbow Blvd., ordinance vacating a pedestrian easement.
– 9000 Haskell Ave., ordinance vacating a utility easement.
– North 31st and Kimball, resolution for sanitary stream crossing improvement.
– Inland and Holliday Drive, sewer main extension resolution, authorizing a survey of lands necessary for the project.
– Nomination by Sheriff Don Ash of Mary Hopkins to the Law Enforcement Advisory Board.
– A resolution to sell general obligation refunding bons.
– A resolution to exercise options to purchase property necessary to build the Healthy Campus project and enter into contracts for pre-construction architecture and engineer costs, up to $2 million.