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County cuts tax rate to two cents

by Alan McArthur
Landmark reporter

The Platte County Commission voted to reduce the county property tax levy this year from 3-cents to 2-cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

The commission also voted to set the levy rates for the Platte County Drainage Ditch District 1 and Platte County Road and Bridge. The rate for the drainage ditch district was set at $0.2371 per $100 assessed valuation and the rate for road and bridge $0.0896.

The commissioners had to reconvene after realizing they needed to set the drainage and road and bridge tax levies after a public hearing was held on Thursday. When they reconvened the audience had already left and even Commissioner Tom Pryor had already exited the building.

Betty Knight, presiding commissioner, and Jim Plunkett, commissioner, voted to set the two levies during the reconvened meeting.

According to Dana Babcock, director of administration, the commission has only had to reconvene a meeting a couple of times in the last four years. Babcock said it was usually because of a wording issue in the minutes.

During the regular meeting the commission approved the county's tax levy after holding a public hearing.

A public hearing was held prior to the setting of the levy, but no members of the public were present to speak. After the public hearing was closed, Knight read a portion of an email sent by Siobhann Williams, county auditor, because Williams was on vacation at the time.

The email is an overall financial update to the commission about the tax revenues for 2008. The email was sent to the commissioners at the request of Knight in order to set the tax levy. The email reads:

“I expect the sales tax revenues to come in at about 5% over last year, close to the amount budgeted. The use tax looks like it will come in at just over $4,000,000 or $400,000 over budget. This increase will not create a cash windfall, however, because we will be short on interest income, building permit fees, and recording fees.

“I do expect that we will have an excess carryover from budgetary savings however I cannot currently estimate this number. It will be modest, not millions like the last two years.

“I expect that growth will continue in 2009 but it will be slow due to general economic conditions. We will see some increases due to the new retail opening this fall, but much of this will make up for the slowdown in other areas.

“This information is provided to assist you in making your decision regarding the property tax levy.”

After Knight read the email into the minutes, Pryor said he would like to see the levy rate set at 2-cents per $100 assessed valuation, a decrease from 2008 with a tax of 3-cents.

“I think we are sitting well, I'd like to see it go to two cents,” said Pryor.

Knight said that when the voters approved the parks and recreation sales tax and the roads sales tax, they promised to reduce the property tax levy when possible.

The maximum allowed tax levy for the county is about 15-cents per $100 assessed valuation.
The commission then voted to approve the tax levy at two cents with a vote of 3-0.

The deadline for the county to set the tax levy was Sept. 20, and it was approved on Thursday, September 18.

The commission also approved a change order with Mill Valley Construction for the new windows for the courthouse. The change increases the total amount of the contract by $3,900 to a total of $120,850.

According to John Kempt, director of facilities management, the change will add a UV coating to the windows of the courthouse to reflect some of the heat from entering the building. Kempt said the tinting on the windows will be very light.

Mill Valley Construction will replace approximately 80 windows on the county courthouse. Many of the current windows are sealed shut to prevent water leaks and drafts.

The new windows are on order and should be installed in about four months.



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