Bill removing mortgage registration fee comes at a high price

WICHITA, Kansas – Cutting services or raising taxes, that’s what officials say they’ll have to deal with if Senate Bill 298 goes through eliminating the mortgage registration fee.

“As long as you can keep all those things in harmony and balanced out we can do our business, citizens get services and it’s livable and doable,” says Sedgwick County commissioner Dave Unruh. “When you take one of those and seriously skew the numbers it puts you in a position where you have to make some hard decisions”

He says by Sedgwick County’s calculations, if the fee is taken away, once the plan is fully implemented over the next five years, it will take away $6 million each year from the revenue stream.

However, other say the fee, only found in nine states in the country, is more of a deterrent than a help.

“When you have a mortgage tax in place that only applies to individuals that have to borrow money you’re essentially discriminating against individuals that need to borrow money to purchase a home, to purchase a business, or to purchase land in Kansas,” said Doug Wareham with the Kansas Bankers Association.

Kansas Senate president Susan Wagle agreed, adding on in a statement, “It’s troubling that local government officials are crying wolf, when the reality is they have increased property taxes about 5 percent a year for the past 16 years in Sedgwick County, an increase of 79 percent, which is far beyond the cost of living.”

Still county officials say that if the change is made, someone will have to pay up.

“Should this result in a change in our mill levy that means everybody in the county is going to have to pay it,” says Unruh, “and they’ll pay it forever.”

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