State keeps dumping on local governments


Correction: An e-mail that House Speaker Ray Merrick wrote about the phaseout of the mortgage registration fee was focused on Johnson County only, not all county governments.

House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, had some nerve to say that “there is no need” for county governments to increase their mill levies due to the phaseout of the mortgage-registration fee on homebuyers. The state has been dumping on local governments for years, imposing and then underfunding mandates and eliminating revenue-sharing programs. Sedgwick County spends about $150 million per year to provide services mandated by the state, yet receives only about 15 percent of the funding needed to pay for these services. The county also has lost about $59 million in revenue since 2009 because of state actions. It estimates that the loss of mortgage-registration fees will cost it as much as $3.7 million when fully implemented. Instead of lecturing and off-loading on local governments, the state needs to support them.