The Gasconade County Commission wants to know where Sheriff John Romanus formally stands on the pronposed sales tax increase before they consider placing it on a countywide ballot.
That was the panel’s message Thursday when the issue came up during the weekly County Commission session.
“Until he comes in (with more information), why would I want to even think of putting it on” a ballot? asked Southern District Associate Commissioner Jerry Lairmore.
Lairmore repeated his earlier statement that he is not opposed to a half-cent sales tax for law enforcement, but that his primary concern is with having adequate funding for all county government operations.
Of concern to Lairmore, Presiding Commissioner Larry Miskel and Northern District Associate Commissioner Jim Holland is whether Romanus formally is calling for a tax increase. Thus far, the sheriff has said that while his department could use the additional funding, he was not formally advocating a tax increase.
Based on the revenue generated in 2017 by the county’s half-cent sales tax for General Revenue, the proposed tax increase would produce about $960,000 for the sheriff’s agency.
As a sweetener aimed at county administrators, supporters of the proposal say a fourth of that new law enforcement revenue could be returned to General Revenue to fund other county services. Because the law enforcement sales tax is a dedicated tax, presumably that would be done by simply reducing the General Revenue allocation that normally would go to the Sheriff’s Department.
Lairmore said he would like to hear from the public about the proposed sales tax increase. He wants to know if there is support countywide for a tax increase.
Also, he said Thursday morning, he wants to hear specifics from Romanus. “We need some type of plan,” the commissioner said.
Miskel agreed. “Bottom line: He’s got to have something for us prior to the next meeting,” the presiding commissioner said.
The County Commission is scheduled to meet against tomorrow at 10 a.m.
Gasconade County resident Dale Maune, who said he represents a citizens group advocating a tax increase, first proposed the measure to County Commission in late December.
Maune said he and the group were instrumental in winning law enforcement tax increases in recent years in Franklin County.
While Maune initially requested a vote on April 3, it’s possible if not likely the County Commission will look at one of the two ballots later in the year for a sales tax proposal.
In order to place an issue on the April 3 ballot, an order would have to be adopted by Jan. 23.
Possibly figuring into the panel’s decision on scheduling a vote is the work being done now on the county’s 2018 operating budget.
County Clerk Lesa Lietzow and her staff are putting the final figures on the funding plan and, as in recent years, there is not a lot of wiggle room between projected revenue and expenditures.
“We are in the black, but only to the tune of about $6,200,” she told the County Commission Thursday morning.
And that, to this point, is a result of a move county officials made last year — bumping projected sales tax revenue higher than they thought it would be to provide a thicker cushion between revenue and expenditures (from $950,000 to $960,000)
As it turned out, actual sales tax revenue slightly exceeded the $960,000 projection. So, for the 2018 budget, Lietzow and County Treasure Mike Feagan agreed to boost the sales tax projection to about $975,000.
As she noted Thursday morning, even with that higher sales tax estimate the projected year-end balance winds up at about $6,200.
The County Commission will adopt the 2018 budget later this month.