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In re Application of City of Garnett

March 14, 2008

IN THE MATTER OF THE APPLICATION OF CITY OF GARNETT/EAST KANSAS AGRI-ENERGY, L.C.C., FOR EXEMPTION FROM AD VALOREM TAXATION IN ANDERSON COUNTY, KANSAS.


Appeal from Board of Tax Appeals.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. Board of Tax Appeals' (BOTA) orders are subject to review under the Kansas Act for Judicial Review and Civil Enforcement of Agency Actions, K.S.A. 77-601 et seq. A party claiming that BOTA's action is invalid bears the burden of proving the invalidity.

2. The interpretation of a statute is a question of law over which an appellate court has unlimited review.

3. Under the doctrine of operative construction, Kansas courts defer to BOTA's decisions on matters within its expertise.

4. When interpreting a statute, a court must give effect to the intention of the legislature as expressed in the plain and unambiguous language. Ordinary words are to be given their ordinary meanings. Statutes should not be read to add what is not found in the language or to delete what is, as a matter of ordinary English, contained in the language.

5. According to the plain language of K.S.A. 12-1749d, the legislature intended to impose a time frame on providing the public with notice of hearing to discuss a proposed property tax exemption but did not intend to impose a time frame on providing the governing body of any city or county and unified school district with notice of the hearing.

6. Under K.S.A. 12-1749d, the governing body of a county may be served with written notice of the public hearing to discuss a proposed property tax exemption by serving the county clerk.

7. Under the facts and circumstances of this case, the published notice of the public hearing to discuss a proposed property tax exemption properly identified the purpose of the hearing as required by K.S.A. 12-1749d.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Malone, J.

Affirmed.

Before MARQUARDT, P.J., MALONE, J. and BRAZIL, S.J.

Anderson County, Kansas (County), appeals the Kansas Board of Tax Appeals' (BOTA) decision granting the City of Garnett's (City) application for exemption from ad valorem taxation of an ethanol manufacturing plant leased by City to East Kansas Agri-Energy, L.L.C. (East Kansas). This appeal raises no substantive issues about the merits of BOTA's decision granting the application for ad valorem tax exemption. Instead, County raises only procedural issues concerning City's notice of the public hearing to discuss the proposed tax exemption as required by K.S.A. 12-1749d. First, County claims that City failed to properly notify County of the public hearing as required by the statute. Second, County claims that City's published notice of the public hearing failed to properly identify the purpose of the hearing.

On August 14, 2001, City sent a "letter of intent" to East Kansas, which stated its support of East Kansas' effort to finance, build, and operate an ethanol manufacturing plant in City's Golden Prairie Industrial Park. In the letter, City agreed to "discuss in good faith industrial revenue bonds or tax incentive financing with your group as a source for at least a part of your capital needs to construct and equip the Plant."

East Kansas began constructing the ethanol plant in October or November 2004, and the plant was completed in July 2005. At an April 4, 2005, meeting attended by both City commissioners and County commissioners, City and County discussed the unresolved issue of East Kansas' request of industrial revenue bonds. Pursuant to K.S.A.12-1749d(a), ...


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