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PrattTribune - Pratt, KS
  • County joins lawsuit against state

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  • Pratt County is joining several other Kansas counties in a lawsuit against the State to recover funds it did not receive from the Kansas Department of Revenue as required by state statute.
    Pratt County lost some $32,000 in funds it was supposed to receive from the Oil and Gas Valuation Depletion Trust Fund for fiscal year 2013, part of over $7 million Kansas counties did not receive from the fund.
    The action was approved at the Pratt County Commission meeting Monday after County Counsel Bob Schmisseur brought the matter to the attention of commissioners.
    The Kansas Association of Counties indicated that the Legislature has acted incorrectly in this matter and Schmisseur agrees.
    Schmisseur said the county needed to act quickly to get involved with the lawsuit because if they don't do anything by the end of the week, it will be too late to act later.
    "We're going to protect our rights," Schmisseur said.
    The county can withdraw from the lawsuit in the future if it wants to.
    Pratt County was supposed to receive just over $61,300 from the Oil and Gas Valuation Depletion Trust Fund for fiscal year 2013.
    That amount was based on a 12.41 percent return on $494,100 in Pratt County oil and gas severance taxes collected in fiscal year 2013.
    However, the Kansas Department of Revenue retroactively imposed a six percent return they established for fiscal year 2014 on fiscal year 2013. That meant that Pratt County would receive only $29,650, less than half the amount they were supposed to receive, Schmisseur said.
    But wait, there's more. Pratt Country Treasurer Amy Jones brought the Oil and Gas Valuation Depletion Trust check to the commission meeting and revealed that Pratt County had received $600 less than even the six percent should have given them so Pratt County ended up with a loss of about $32,000.
    Pratt County was not the only county to lose money this way. Schmisseur brought in a list of 56 other counties and the Department of Revenue had short changed each one in the same manner.
    In each case, every county received less than half what it was supposed to receive. The amount of funding lost was highest in counties that had the most oil and gas production. Barber County took the biggest hit with a loss of $645,000.
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