Southern Public Administration Education Foundation

The Impact of Local School Property Tax Reductions on City and County Revenue Decisions: A Natural Experiment in Kansas

Author: JOCELYN M. JOHNSTON, JUSTIN MARLOWE, DAVID S. T. MATKIN and MICHAEL HAYES
Published in PFM, Vol. 11 No. 2

In response to a significant change to Kansas’s school financing system, in the early 1990s, property tax rates for Kansas’s school districts were set to 39 mills. This meant that a majority of school districts significantly reduced their mill rates. That event provides an opportunity to examine how city and county governments respond to the creation of “slack” in their property tax rate? This study provides evidence that city and county officials tend to report that their property tax decisions are independent of the actions of other local government but that those reports conflict with financial data which demonstrates that cities and counties appeared to increase their mill levies in response to the “slack” in the property tax rate.

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