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Commission just says no to increasing tax levy
Plunkett says county needs to 'stay lean'

by Kim Fickett
Landmark reporter

Adecision by the Platte County Commission to maintain the current tax levy may force the county to seek budget cuts for the 2006 fiscal year.

On Thursday, commissioners voted unanimously to keep the levy at four cents per $100 of assessed valuation,, the same rate that the former county commission decreased from ten cents in 2004.

Over the last 11 years, the county has seen the levy decrease from 19 cents in 1994 to the current rate of four cents.

Since that reduction of the property tax from ten cents to four cents in 2004, County Auditor Sandra Thomas said the county lost approximately $900,000 in revenue.

Thomas is estimating that the amount of income will go up about $50,000 in 2006 because of assessed valuation.

“When we do the 2006 budget, we will probably be down nearly $850,000 from the 2004 budget,” said Thomas.

“Government needs to live within its means,” said Second District Commissioner Jim Plunkett. “By keeping the levy at four cents, the message to taxpayers is that government needs to be more efficient and lean.”

Thomas said in order for the county government to live within its means in 2006, some budget cuts may need to be made.

“I think there will have to be decisions made through the budget,” said Thomas. “We’re going to have to set some priorities and there will have to be some cuts.”

Thomas estimated that the county’s 2006 budget may reflect at least $500,000 in cuts.

However, despite Thomas’ current estimate, she said certain factors will play into the final budget numbers for the county.

“There will be some things (sales and use tax numbers) that will happen this year that will have some bearing on how we end up this year,” stated Thomas.

Thomas will take the first draft of the new year’s budget to the county commission on Nov. 15.

“At that time I will make recommendations to the commissioners about where I think they should make cuts,” she said.

Nearly each year, the county experiences a few cuts in its budget, but according to Thomas this year’s budget will reflect a few more cuts than the county usually sees.

While Thomas is unsure of what recommendations she will bring with her to the Nov. 15 meeting, she believes the sheriff’s department will be one of the department’s that could see cuts.

“The sheriff’s department will probably see the greatest impact because they have the largest budget,” said Thomas. “I can’t say for certain that’s where it will end up being and I don’t know for certain that all of the cuts will go there.”

Plunkett admitted that the county may be forced to look at a few layoffs due to budget constraints.

“There may potentially be some layoffs. It’s up to each individual officeholder who has to submit a budget that will allow Sandra to present a balanced budget to us,” said Plunkett.

According to Plunkett, his decision to not raise the levy came down to his concern for the taxpayers.

“We need to stay lean as a government just like we would in a business,” stated Plunkett. “As a business owner, I don’t have the luxuries of setting my revenues like a county does. As the county government we could have raised revenues to match expenses, but we absolutely would not consider doing that.”


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