Litigation continues as taxes remain unpaid on Heartland Motorsports Park
TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - As litigation continues, the Shawnee Co. Board of Commission has claimed it supports Heartland Motorsports Park while no taxes have been paid on the property since 2017.
The Shawnee County Board of Commissioners took time on Thursday, May 18, to confirm its support for the Heartland Motorsports Park south of Topeka. Members have and will continue to work hard to find ways to support the park and promote economic development in the community.
After the park was acquired, Commissioners said Shelby Development was encouraged by elected officials to seek tax incentive aid from various sources, however, Shelby’s principal, Mr. Payne, said in 2017, “I’ve never asked for or wanted a handout, including tax exemptions or abatements. I expected to do my part as a property and business owner, which means paying taxes.”
Unfortunately, the Commission said payments for 2017 taxes on all of the park’s parcels, even on the amount Shelby has already agreed to what the track is worth. It said statements that the track is threatened by a “crushing tax burden” and that the amount of taxes limits the ability for owners to make investments is not accurate as owners have not actually paid said taxes.
Commissioners said owners challenged the park’s 2016 and 2017 property valuation. The county then entered a settlement that set the jointly agreed values for the park’s properties for the 2016, 2017 and 2018 tax years. The taxes assessed are based on valuations fo the park to which Shelby has agreed to for those years.
Since that time, officials said no process to appeal or invoke a review has begun for any year - 2018 or after. They said the county cannot “release, discharge, remit or commute” past tax liability if the valuation has not been appealed or challenged.
Officials noted that any protest or appeal of the valuation would be considered and the county would review evidence submitted by the property owner concerning the valuation and make any adjustments rendered necessary.
“We are legally bound by the process set forth in Kansas state law for the way to go about that,” Commissioners said.
While the owners of Heartland Motorsports Park did file a civil suit against the county and certain officials in 2019, the Commission said it was dismissed by the Shawnee Co. District Court, which is now on appeal before the Kansas Court of Appeals.
The Commission said it is extremely limited in what it can say regarding pending litigation.
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