More to the story on the publishing issues Kansan reported – Harvey County Now

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By Adam Strunk

A recent article by Newton Kansan incorrectly stated that, “through no fault of their own”, the Hesston School District will not be able to raise an additional $600,000 for its future bond issue this year due to a error in legal advice for neutral income. public hearing fee.

The article described how Kansas Publishing Ventures (parent company of Harvey County Now) and the Column company were responsible for the formatting and publication of the Legal Notice – Notice of Non-Revenue Rates Hearing – which has not been published.

KPV, however, did not receive a Hesston School District revenue-neutral rate hearing notice for release. This fact was something the reporter for the Kansan story could have easily verified had he contacted Harvey County Now about the story, as is common practice among professional journalists.

“It wasn’t the newspaper’s fault,” Hesston Superintendent Kevin Logan said, adding that he wasn’t sure how the ball was dropped, but it had to do with scanning or download from the district side.

The district sent its annual budget hearing notice to Harvey County Now for release. Evidence of the budget hearing legal notice was returned to the district and Harvey County Now released the budget. A separate hearing publication on revenue-neutral rates was not included in the document.

The state’s two-year-old tax neutrality law requires residents to be notified by mail and publication of a legal journal of a public hearing on the tax-neutral rate for at least 10 days. in advance.

However, when the district noticed that he had not executed his notice of hearing, there was not enough time to repost before the hearing deadline.

Harvey County Clerk Rick Piepho said the district waited until after the publication period to hold its hearing.

“They deliberately held their hearing late because they wanted to present a budget based on the election result,” he said. “They held their hearing almost to the very end of the process.”

Piepho said the revenue-neutral rate law has financial consequences if each step of the notification process is not followed exactly.

He said if a government were to have a problem with the revenue-neutral rate process, it would find itself unable to generate more tax revenue for the following year than the year before.

“We at the seminars that I would teach or that the state would teach, encourage entities to make sure they send their publication to the newspaper two weeks before,” Piepho said, adding that there is a short delay. for the governing bodies and the county. clerks to ensure that the requirements of the law are met.

As for Hesston, the fallout from the error will limit the district to collecting the same amount of revenue through property taxes as the previous year.

This year, voters narrowly approved a bond issue and an $11 million tax hike that accompanies the issue.

Logan said the missed release would not impact Hesston’s ability to move forward with its $33.5 million bond issue.

Logan said the school district, while unable to raise additional taxes this year, will use local options budget dollars to pay off initial bond debt and use its contingency reserve fund to fill the budget shortfall.

He said the contingency reserve fund would take a hit, but added that the event gives taxpayers another year before they have to pay the tax increase to fund the bond issue.

Kansan’s article noted that a revenue-neutral rate notice for the town of Walton was not released until its RNR hearing. This part of the article was accurate.

“We own the mistake,” KPV majority owner Joey Young said. “We have a legal publishing system that we ask people to use if they want to publish with our newspapers. It is a program called Column, which works well and allows checking at any time of the day or night. The program is used successfully nationwide, but we allowed Walton to operate outside of our system because they did not want to use the program. We now see that was a mistake, and we will make sure the policy is changed in the future. The City of Walton’s legal blunder breaks a long streak of success in printing legal notices. We haven’t had an incorrect impression for a very long time.

Piepho said that in the future he would like to see some revenue-neutral adjustments to the rates law.

One change could be to remove the newspaper publication requirement. Another could add flexibility to dates or date changes for a revenue-neutral rate hearing once notices have been mailed and published. He said there have been issues across the state that are forcing governing bodies to stay at revenue-neutral rates this year.

“I wasn’t necessarily trying to blame the newspapers,” Piepho said. “It’s just the publishing process in general and other issues.”

Young said he regretted the staff had to devote time that could be used to cover local news to correct another publication’s error.

“We’re not trying to throw governing bodies and partners under the bus for a clerical error,” Young said. “We would prefer not to go back and forth with another publication on an article that few people will end up reading. However, because this post inaccurately reported on our company without giving us the opportunity to comment, we felt the need to clarify the facts for anyone who came across their story.

Harvey County Now contacted New Jersey-based Kansan ownership group CherryRoad Media about this story and the inaccuracy of the Kansan article. CherryRoad declined to make a correction and said it supported its report.

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