Little public input offered on property tax

Friday, September 15, 2006

The public hearing on county property taxes drew one member of the public to the Cape Girardeau County Commission chambers Thursday. The visitor, Bill Hahs of the Daisy area, observed and said little except that he supports paying a county road and bridge tax this fall.

Commissioners closed the hearing by setting the tax at 23.69 cents per $100 assessed valuation. If all the taxes are paid on time, the levy will raise about $872,000 to operate the Cape Girardeau County Highway Department in 2007.

The tax levy is the legal maximum according to the Missouri state auditor's office, Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones noted. "My history is we have always just accepted that figure," he said.

The tax rate hearing is mandated by state law and, like the one on Thursday, usually draws sparse attendance. County officials attending the hearing included county Auditor David Ludwig, who drafts the county budget each year, and Clerk Rodney Miller, who is responsible for reporting the rate approved by the commission to the state auditor.

In future years, commissioners will hold a hearing but there will be no tax rate to impose. County voters approved a half-cent sales tax Aug. 8 to fund roads and improved law enforcement. The vote also eliminated the road and bridge property tax after this year's collections.

This year's tax rate became an issue after the Southeast Missourian printed an editorial urging commissioners to forgo the property tax in anticipation of the additional revenue from the sales tax, which will raise more than $6 million annually.

Hahs, in his only comments, said: "I don't believe all that about double dipping I read about in the paper."

The new sales tax will pay for paving county roads. Commissioners have a list of 8.95 miles of road slated for paving in 2007 and on Monday will discuss how to choose members of an 11-person Road and Bridge Advisory Board.

The county has received requests from 35 people for seats on the board, which will include one person from each of the 10 townships and one at-large member.

Commissioners asked for additional applicants from Kinder Township, however, because only one person has applied and they said they would like to have a choice for each slot on the board. Kinder Township includes the Burfordville and Gravel Hill areas.

rkeller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 126

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