Republican legislators joined Gov. Sam Brownback in Wichita on Friday to announce a proposed property tax reform plan that would prevent revenue from increasing automatically when property values rise.
But the flip side of that relief could be that local governments, already squeezed from lower tax revenue during a long recession, find themselves having to cut back their spending even more, one official said.
Rep. Steve Brunk, a Wichita Republican, said the Property Tax Transparency Act would insert a mathematical formula that would force the mill levy to be adjusted lower when an area's assessed valuation on houses and buildings increases -- so that property tax bills would not go up.
If a county or a city needed more money, the governing body would have to vote to accept the additional funds and not reduce the tax rate.
The proposal would, however, allow local governments to collect gains from new construction.
Because property taxes are levied against values that can grow annually, an owner can still pay more in taxes even if a city, county or school district doesn't raise the tax rate.
Brownback said more tax relief is needed, beyond the income tax cuts he ushered through the Kansas Legislature earlier this year.
"Kansas families and businesses are taxed every time they turn around," he said.
Sedgwick County Manager Bill Buchanan said real estate taxes represent 33 percent of the county budget "and this will have a negative effect on that and services will have to be cut."
"If this is what the state believes is important," Buchanan said, "we will make it work."
Rep. Jim Ward, a Wichita Democrat, said Democrats are interested in talking with the governor about property tax cuts, which he said they have been trying to do for a year.
"Not caps or just slowing the growth of property taxes," Ward said. "We want to cut them.
"If the governor is really serious, we're willing to sit down and have a conversation and get that done."