Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Official Seeks to Trim Publishing Mandate ; Mandate: Hensley Criticizes Bill as Diminishing Transparency

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Official Seeks to Trim Publishing Mandate ; Mandate: Hensley Criticizes Bill as Diminishing Transparency

Article excerpt

An official in Gov. Sam Brownback's administration on Monday urged approval of two bills that would cut down on burdensome mandates by the state.

The first bill would limit requirements on posting levy adjustment notices in newspapers, while the second would ease external audits on small municipalities.

Both measures before the Senate Local Government Committee were developed by the Kansas Department of Administration under a Brownback executive order issued in 2011 directing the agency to identify burdensome laws, rules or regulations.

Department official Roger Basinger said Senate Bill 244 would be welcomed by taxing units extending into more than one county.

Under the bill, a multi-county unit would no longer be forced to publish notices on tax adjustments in each participating county. The new approach would allow tax entities -- regardless of size -- to satisfy the need for public disclosure by publishing notices in a single newspaper and on a lone website.

"The legislation should ease the administrative burden and cost for the multi-county municipalities while protecting the public involvement in the budget process," Basinger said.

Doug Anstaett, executive director of the Kansas Press Association, said the legislation could be interpreted as financial incentive for government to be less transparent.

"This is a horrible way to save money," he said.

Basinger said a good example of the burden on municipalities was the 16-county Central Kansas Library System based in Barton County. Required notices for a recent $2 million tax increase had to be published in each county. The proposed law would reduce costs by permitting a newspaper notice in a Barton County publication and placement of an online notice at the county's website. …

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