Boone County’s sales tax situation has become so dire that it should raise the property tax to compensate for declining revenue, County Auditor June Pitchford said in her proposed budget for fiscal 2020.
The first in a series of public hearings on the proposed budget is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Boone County Commission chambers at the Roger B. Wilson Boone County Government Center. Pitchford’s budget plan proposes spending a total of $85.8 million, down 2% from this year.
Sales tax is the primary concern addressed in the proposed budget. The tax, which accounts for around 68% of total revenue for the majority of county operations and services, has been on the decline for the past several years. Pitchford blames untaxed online retail sales for the drop and called the situation “alarming.”
Pitchford is estimating sales tax revenue for 2020 of $47.6 million, a decline of 1.75% compared to 2019. She detailed the impact of declining revenue on the county’s major funds since 2017. The general fund, for example, is anticipated to collect $600,000 less next year than it did in 2017, while the Children’s Services and 911/Emergency Management funds will collect $320,000 and $450,000 less, respectively.
To remedy the problem, Pitchford is proposing a 2-cent increase in the property tax levy, which would raise about $600,000 and cost the owner of a home worth $200,000 an additional $7.60 per year. That would boost the total property tax to 19 cents. Of that, 14 cents would go to the general fund and 5 cents to the Road and Bridge Fund.
The county is authorized to levy a property tax as high as 31 cents per $100 assessed valuation without seeking voter approval.
In terms of spending, Pitchford’s budget includes $322,000 for employee raises, averaging 1.75%, and $875,000 for election expenses, given that 2020 is a presidential election year. It also calls for spending $4.8 million for new and replacement technology, vehicles and equipment. This would include:
- $865,000 to replace computer hardware, law enforcement equipment and various office and jail equipment.
- $1.07 million from the Road and Bridge Fund for routine replacement of machinery, equipment and vehicles.
- $573,000 from the Law Enforcement Services Fund for replacement of vehicles and equipment.
- $2.1 million from the 911/Emergency Management Fund to replace computer hardware, radio equipment, emergency sirens and radio network infrastructure.
- $214,000 from the other funds to replace office equipment and technology.
Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.