Columbia, MO (September 17, 2009)—Following two public hearings, the Boone County Commission today voted against a proposed five cent property tax increase for 2009. The rate will remain at 12 cents for the general fund and .0475 cents for common road and bridge. The 2009 maximum legal rate for general revenue is 22 cents. The 2009 maximum legal rate for common road and bridge is five cents, based on a 1993 ballot initiative. The property tax rates are per $100.00 of assessed valuation.
For the first time in recent history, the county is experiencing negative growth in sales tax, which accounts for 60 percent of all county operating revenues. The proposed property tax increase was considered due to a projected shortfall of 1.3 million in revenue that was predicted before all county department budgets were submitted to County Auditor June Pitchford on the statutory deadline of September 10. Pitchford’s report after the September 10 deadline showed that the projected shortfall was $500,000. The decrease in projected shortfall led the Commission to decide that the use of fund balance to cover the shortfall was an appropriate decision instead of an increase in property tax.
Over the last two years the county has reduced spending to cover the decrease in revenues. Reductions in the budget include limited county-wide purchase of replacement vehicles and equipment, no pay increases for employees and limited travel.
The county portion of property tax includes general revenue, group homes (Boone County Family Resources) and common road and bridge. The County Commission does not have discretion on the group homes levy. It is a voter approved levy of .1114 cents that is adjusted annually pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution and Revised Statues of Missouri.
In 1999, the general revenue property tax was 13 cents and remained at that level until it was lowered a penny in 2005 to 12 cents. The common road and bridge tax was five cents in 1999 and remained at that level until it was voluntarily lowered to about 0.475 cents in 2005.
Property tax accounts for 10 percent of all county operating revenues. The revenues support state mandated services such as the 13th Judicial Circuit Court, operating the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, operation of the county jail, and law enforcement services for all unincorporated areas of the county.