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Good news, bad news for Road and Bridge Fund

Increased assessments will bring about $40,000 more dollars into the Road and Bridge Fund over the next year, but, with increases in the costs for materials and labor, that will just about be a wash, Presiding Commissioner Jim Henson says.

The county’s assessment figures are in, and county commissioners set their sales and property tax rates at a public session Tuesday, after the required public hearing was held.

At the meeting, the assessed valuation for 2004 for the General Fund was reported as $506,933,217, an increase of 3.8 percent over 2003 figures. For Road and Bridge, it was reported as $483,154,441, which is a 3.9 percent increase over 2003 figures.

The county gets most of its revenue from sales taxes, so increased assessments of property do not affect the general fund or the law enforcement funds. Only the Road and Bridge Fund has any property tax component as far as county funds go.

The maximum allowable levy for the Road and Bridge Fund was .2493 cents per $100 assessed valuation. However, the commission voted to voluntarily reduce that levy by .0218 cents. The tax rate is thus the same as last year’s, Henson said, which is .2275 cents per $100 assessed.

Because of the increase in assessments, this will mean about $40,000 in additional revenue, Henson estimated. He pointed out the actual increase can be affected by several things, including delinquent tax payments.

He believes the additional revenue will prove to be less than a 3 percent increase, and as such will barely keep pace with increased material costs.

“Rebar went up 60 percent in cost,” Henson said, just to give one example.

The maximum allowable levy for the general fund prior to the sales tax roll back is .3315 cents per $100 assessed, commissioners reported. However, the required roll back for sales tax is .3075 cents, which leaves a balance of .0240 cents.

That is the same tax rate as last year, Henson said.

Rollbacks are required by the Hancock Amendment when assessments increase substantially more than the income rates of tax payers.

Commissioners also set the tax rate for the senior services fund. Voters approved the property tax, which is 5 cent per $100 assessed for real estate properties, in August. The county will be able to collect that tax for the 2004 calendar year.

On an indirectly related matter, the county commissioners opted out of a tax system St. Louis County has adopted in which tax formulas are different for different types of property. The software to do this cost St. Louis $2 million, according to newspaper reports. That is just not feasible for smaller county governments, St. Francois County Clerk Mark Hedrick said.

It is his office which will send assessment information to each of the political taxing entities. After those entities have set their rates, his office will review them to ensure they are correct and must sign off on them. After that, they are sent to the state auditor’s office for certification.

Cities, school districts and other taxing entities must post notice of their tax rate hearings so that the public has a chance to comment if they wish. Such hearings are by law open to the general public.

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