Letters to the Editor

Letters: Readers discuss the JoCo budget, Ricky Kidd and coverage of NASCAR

JoCo budget

I would like to clarify a few points made in The Star’s Aug. 15 editorial regarding Johnson County’s fiscal year 2020 budget, adopted by the Board of County Commissioners. (8A, “In big-box store fight, JoCo commissioners make ‘reckless and irresponsible’ budget bet”)

According to the editorial, “the county says potential tax revenue losses could be $80 million.” This seems to imply that the county is taking an $80 million gamble. It’s important to know that is not the case.

There are 37 taxing jurisdictions that can be affected by this. I have spoken with several officials from cities, schools and Johnson County Community College about the issue. They want the county to continue to fight for the fair appraisals of these properties.

The potential revenue loss from current Board of Tax Appeals cases totals just more than $82 million for all taxing jurisdictions. The school districts stand to lose the most at nearly $29 million. Next would come the state at $14.6 million. All cities in Johnson County, in total, would experience an impact of $13.8 million.

Johnson County’s general fund would experience a potential loss of $13 million. This one-time reduction of the county’s portion could be covered by the 30% reserves in the general fund. Just like many households, we build up our savings for a rainy-day emergency.

There are a few other realities to keep in mind. These cases could take two to three years before reaching a resolution and finalizing their impact. In other states facing similar scenarios, some courts are rejecting the hypothetical or legislative routes being taken. The future of this issue is not certain.

What is certain is, if hypothetical values continue to be allowed for specific commercial properties or are expanded to other commercial classes, then the big risk will be to residential property owners and excluded business owners who will be required to pay more.

Jim Allen

Vice chair, Johnson

County Board of

County Commissioners


Two injustices

Time and time again, and especially with black men, we see prosecutors falsely accuse or hide evidence from juries to gain convictions. And are these prosecutors ever held accountable for this criminal act? If this isn’t obstruction of justice, what is?

Ricky Kidd was wrongfully convicted and spent 23 years in prison — and the scary counterpoint is that the one who actually committed the murders remains free. (Aug. 19, 7A, “How can Missouri say exoneree Ricky Kidd is owed nothing?”)

Arlin J. Buyert


A bargain buy?

Could the president’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement limiting greenhouse gas emissions have had anything to do with getting a good deal on purchasing the remains of Greenland’s real estate after large chunks melt away? (Aug. 21, 1A, “Earth’s future being written in fast-melting Greenland”)

James Heiman


Kidney health

Kidney disease was the ninth-leading cause of death in 2017, affecting nearly 37 million Americans. More than 726,000 Americans suffer from kidney failure, relying on dialysis or a kidney transplant to live. Neither is a cure.

President Donald Trump last month signed the Executive Order on Advancing American Kidney Health, the first kidney care overhaul since the 1973 Medicare End-Stage Renal Disease Program. It aims to reduce the risk of kidney failure, improve therapies and increase access to kidney transplants.

The order encourages therapeutic innovations such as artificial kidneys through KidneyX, a partnership between the Department of Health and Human Services and the American Society of Nephrology. KidneyX relies on public and private funding to accelerate innovation through prize competitions.

The private sector committed the first $25 million, and the House of Representatives proposed funding for KidneyX in its 2020 budget. The Senate must also support KidneyX.

As a Missouri kidney transplant recipient, I have faith that Sen. Roy Blunt, chair of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee for Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, will address the needs of the 807,436 Missourians with kidney disease.

Trump’s bold vision for kidney care must become reality.

John Thomas

Columbia, Missouri

No NASCAR love

Well, it’s official: News sources in Kansas City care nothing about NASCAR. The Star prints very little, if anything, about the races, and the TV stations report nothing. (Except Fox 4-WDAF, which does announce the winners.)

Last week, Dale Earnhardt Jr., one of the most recognized names in the sport, was in a plane crash with his wife and 15-month-old daughter. There was not a word about it on the local channels or in the newspaper. “NBC Nightly News” led with the story.

I wonder what the response would be if it was a top Chiefs or Royals player. I looked it up on The Star’s website, and the plane crash was in the entertainment section. I don’t think the Earnhardts would call it “entertainment.”

Linda McGee

Kansas City, Kansas