by Valerie Verkamp
On a split vote, the Platte County Commission voted to keep the county’s property tax levy at one cent per $100 of assessed valution.
Kathy Dusenbery, first district commissioner who was defeated in her reelection bid in the August Republican primary but will continue to serve until Dec. 31, cast the dissenting vote.
Dusenbery stated a desire to roll the county’s tax levy back to zero.
At one cent, the property tax brings in roughly $240,000 in tax revenue for the county per year. The county primarily operates using revenue generated by sales tax.
“I really feel like sales taxes in Platte County have not reached a plateau,” said Dusenbery following the open public hearing.
“We have a lot of growth coming to Platte County involving retail sales.”
Dusenbery explained that Menards, a home improvement store based out of Wisconsin, will be opening a store in Platte County at the NE corner of Highway 152 and North Green Hills Road.
Additionally, Sam's Club will be relocating from Clay County to Platte County, she indicated, in the Tiffany Springs shopping area.
“That will increase our sales tax and use tax,” said Dusenbery. “I believe that everybody during these times should be reevaluating their budgets, because when I went door to door in Platte County (during her campaign effort) I saw a big difference in the way people are able to take care of their homes now (compared to) what they did four years ago when I went door-to-door. There is a big difference. People can't afford to take care of their properties as they have in the past.”
Dusenbery said given that eye-opening experience, she feels it is in the best interest of the county to give Platte Countians a break from their property tax for the next couple of years.
Jim Plunkett, second district commissioner, who approved maintaining the current tax rate, said he doesn't entirely disagree with Dusenbery, but believes in light of recent developments it is not the appropriate time to decrease the one cent property tax and lose the $240,000 in revenue it generates.
Plunkett said the University of Missouri-Kansas City Northland, a tenant at the Platte County Resource Center that offer graduate courses to working adults, recently cancelled their lease. In previous years, the agreement generated approximately $175,000 per year to the county
He also pointed out several increasing county expenditures including a $40,000 hike in health insurances rates, as well as an unexpected $61,000 expense to cover a shortage in the Platte County Board of Elections budget.
Missouri law would have prevented county officials from raising the tax levy next year since said Plunkett. The levy can only be raised in even numbered years. Therefore the loss of $240,000 would have continued for two consecutive years, resulting in a revenue decrease of $480,000 over two years.
Plunkett said he voted to keep the one cent general fund tax levy, given the effect all this has on the budget,
Following Plunkett's rationale behind his vote, Dusenbery said when state representatives meet with local officials they consistently discuss how they are actively “shrinking state government” but “when we speak about shrinking county government we get pushed back. And I disagree with that. If we're all on board with shrinking government then it goes down to every level of government—state, county, city—it is a hypocrisy if not.”
Jason Brown, presiding commission, who also voted to maintain the current tax levies failed to comment.
Last year, the commission unanimously lowered the general fund tax levy from two cents to one cent per $100 assessed valuation.
On Monday, the commission unanimously approved to keep the road district #1 tax levy at $.3239 and the drainage district tax levy at $.0859.