Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Potential Property Tax Problems With Big Box Retailers

Below is an email I sent to the governing body of Shawnee today.  The actions (or inactions) of the city manager are IMHO, inexcusable.

Good afternoon,

Some of you may recall that I addressed the council in July about this problem.  At the time it was learned that Wal Mart had won an appeal of their property tax based on what they contended was an erroneous method of calculating their taxes by JoCo

It was indicated that if their appeal is upheld it could have severe consequences on taxes received by the city and county by not just Wal Mart but other retailers that were taxed the same way (Lowes, Home Depot, Walgreens etc.)  This could also involve the refunding of substantial sums of money to these businesses.  For those that are not aware of what this entailed, apparently JoCo had been basing property taxes on sales as opposed to actual property valuations.

The more I have thought about this issue, the more upset I have become with staff, particularly the city manager.  When queried, he responded that the situation was being watched closely.

 The situation has been ongoing apparently for quite some time.  So, that now begs answers to the following questions:

1.  Why weren’t the citizens of Shawnee told of this situation prior to the vote on the community center?  Was it because that would have been just one more reason for the voters not to approve it?

2.  Why wasn’t the information presented in the open council budget sessions so that the public could know about it.  Presentations about this item were made to the council in OP.  Presentation about this item was made to the BOCC in open session.

 This low key approach and not keeping the citizens informed of this item, is IMHO an act of misfeasance on the part of the city manager.  Now, before anybody on the council starts to declare that “we have the greatest staff in the metro”, realize that by doing so you would be condoning the withholding of this information from the public.  This is outrageous.

I proposed in July some actions that it was felt were necessary to keep the citizens of Shawnee properly informed on this matter.  I will reiterate those proposals at this time:

1.  The city council must, in open session, direct the city manager to provide in January after the beginning of the new council session and at the beginning of the budget process an outline of the current status of the item as what the courts have decided up to that time.

2.  Utilizing the same time line as above the city manager needs to prepare various “what if” scenarios.  Even though specific dollar amounts are not currently available, there should be enough raw data available to project various possibilities.  It is done for other items all the time.  Heck, the budget is one big “what if” scenario.

3.  The council needs to admonish the city manager that keeping this info from the citizens is not good government, nor is it transparent government.