By Steve Helm, USD No. 480 Board Member
It was interesting reading the Conspiracy Theories Opinion article in the Leader & Times on Feb. 4. Not being one to just believe what is printed, I researched the six myths supposedly debunked by L&T Publisher Earl Watt.
Myth 1 — half cent or full cent?
Being one of three USD 480 Board Members on the Sales Tax Committee tasked to meet with Mayor Harrison and Commissioner Denoyer to discuss the sales tax option months ago, I can assure you that during the meetings an additional half-cent sales tax was being proposed by the city, which would have totaled a 1 percent increase. I’m not sure at what point the city dropped their request, but it was never at a meeting I attended in person or via phone.
So Myth No. 1 is actually TRUE.
Myth 2 — More schools will run Liberal out of water
Of course it is absurd that new schools will cause Liberal to run out of water. It’s the commercial plants that we should be worrying about.
Myth 3 — National Beef will close any day
The $20 million plant expansion by National Beef may or may not be true. A search of Seward County Real Estate Appraisals has the entire National Beef facility appraised at approximately $21 million for property tax purposes. Unless National Beef is willing to guarantee via a bond or some other instrument that they will not close for the next 25 years, Mr. Watt your statement “The fact is National Beef isn’t going anywhere” is simply your opinion.
Myth 4 — Only $100,000-plus homes will pay the tax
Of course property taxes will apply no matter what the appraised value.
Myth 5 — Most of Liberal’s population rents their home and won’t pay
Renters will probably pay higher rents due to increased property taxes as landlords cannot suffer through another year of massive property tax increases.
Myth 6 — Liberal’s sales tax will be the highest in the region
Mr. Watt, it’s amazing that you had to go out of state to find two cities with higher sales tax than Liberal’s sales tax. For your information, sales tax is only a single part of the tax structure. I did some research on each town, either by telephone or Internet, so let’s look at each town individually as they are right now:
Liberal – 8.4 percent
Dodge City – 8.6 percent
Garden City – 8.4 percent
Woodward – 9.825 percent
Guymon – 9.5 percent
Liberal – 160
Dodge City – 187
Garden City – 151
Woodward – N/A
Guymon – N/A
Property Tax on residence valued at $235,000
Liberal – $4,200
Dodge Cty – $4,900
Garden City – $3,965
Woodard – $2,260
Guymon – $1,890
Taxes to tag new vehicle – purchased for $30,000
Kansas – $3,000+
Oklahoma – $1,100, $92.50 per year after first year
State income taxes from my experience, it seems that both states have similar state income taxes.
When looking at the above comparisons, it’s no wonder that per your statement both Woodward and Guymon are growing. Property taxes are about 50 percent less and initial vehicle taxes are over 60 percent less than residents of Liberal pay. No wonder we have so many vehicles illegally tagged out of state by Liberal residents who have avoided paying sales tax on the initial purchase as well the annual tag renewal.
So myth No. 6 is somewhat TRUE
Citizens of Liberal, make sure you are getting the FACTS and not conspiracy theories.