Senate approves property tax lid acceleration; House to consider next

Public votes on city and county spending increases above inflation could come as early as next year – a year sooner than expected – under a bill approved by the Senate on Tuesday.

Senate Substitute for House Bill 2088, which passed the Senate 24-16, is a follow-up measure to fix glitches in last year’s property-tax cap bill that cities and counties said made it unworkable.

The underlying law limits government spending increases to an adjusted consumer price index to be set by the state.

What that means is that if rising property values bring in more money than the state allows local government to spend, they’ll have to either cut the property tax rate or go to voters for approval to spend the increased income.

Senators did, however, allow one big exemption, proposed by Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick.

The McGinn amendment allows cities to keep extra tax dollars for law enforcement, fire and emergency medical needs.

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Senators sought to accelerate a clampdown on city and county property tax increases, passing a bill Tuesday after hours of debate.

House Bill 2088 moves up the implementation of the property tax lid from 2018 to 2017. The lid, placed into law last year, requires voters to approve property tax increases above the rate of inflation.

The Senate approved the bill on a 24-16 vote after a debate that stretched for more than four hours. Senators slogged through a number of amendments seeking exemptions to the bill’s requirements.

The legislation already provided some exemptions. Construction of new buildings, increases in personal property valuation and property that has changed use would not trigger the cap. Court judgments, federal mandates and bond and interest payments would also not trigger the lid.

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