Kansas Counties Hope to Curb Population Decline with ROZ Tax Bre - KOAM TV 7

Kansas Counties Hope to Curb Population Decline with ROZ Tax Breaks


  A group of Kansas House members has filed legislation for the 2014 session that would add three southeastern counties to the state's rural opportunity zone program. The new legislation would add Cherokee, Labette and Montgomery counties to the program. People who move to the participating counties are eligible for income tax waivers.


Cherokee County has houses for sale in new subdivisions and old. As well as vacant business buildings too. Signs of a declining population. Rep. Mike Houser says, "Our population has decreased by 1400 people in last ten years."

 Representative Houser hopes to get people moving into Cherokee County so he's co-sponsoring  legislation to make the county a rural opportunity zone. 


He says, "When people move into the zones, they wont pay any state income taxes  for five years. There's some restrictions, they  can't have lived  in the  state of Kansas for five years before and cant have made less than a certain amount of money."


There are already 73 counties in the zone program in the  state. And the county's new economic development director believes it helps level the playing field. 

 Janet Miller started as Cherokee County Economic Development Director November 15th. She says, "Being so close to the border, people certainly  commute all over this region so if they choose to locate in Kansas that's certainly a benefit to us.  Ultimately with those   property tax dollars, sales tax dollars,  with them locating here  versus of locating someplace else."

Plus it  creates a labor pool for prospective businesses.

Houser says he hopes it attracts businesses.  He says, "If they thought they had a work force you betcha,  that's a key factor, if they think  they have a work force."


Officials think this could also solve the problem of brain drain when college educated locals move to other states.

Miller says, "I think people tend to migrate back to home towns some point in time,  so if we can speed that process up or not have them leave in the first place I think that would be terrific."

The income tax waiver can be paired with student loan repayments up to fifteen  thousand dollars.

Miller says, "If you have that incentive weighed against a little higher income somewhere else  there's certainly benefits  to locating in a smaller community, lower cost of living and other things.  This would be another added benefit that Cherokee County and other counties could tout."

Houser says the program has proved successful in other counties.

 According to the Kansas Department of Commerce which administers the programs, since  2011, the department  has received more than a thousand applications for the student loan repayment program.

To learn more about ROZ and the repayment program click here





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