HERMANN — In what is developing into a pleasant surprise for Gasconade County government officials, the 1.325-cent use-tax could generate close to $200,000 this year — or more, depending …
HERMANN — In what is developing into a pleasant surprise for Gasconade County government officials, the 1.325-cent use-tax could generate close to $200,000 this year — or more, depending on the level of purchases made by county resident from out-of-state vendors.
County Treasurer Mike Feagan Thursday morning reported a July use-tax reimbursement for county government of $13,622. Not a large amount in itself, but an amount that pushes the 7-month year-to-date total to $133,803. If the county receives at least $13,000 a month in the next five months, the total use-tax revenue going to county government will come close to $200,000, an amount that would surprise some, but not all, revenue watchers. Southern District Associate Commissioner Jerry Lairmore, R-Owensville, a leading proponent of the use-tax that approved by voters last year, said at last week’s County Commission session that he thinks online sales will remain strong even as the coronavirus pandemic slowly melts into the past.
“I think people will use Amazon even more,” Lairmore said, pointing to higher gas prices that will discourage travel to in-state retailers.
It’s not just county government that is benefiting from continued healthy online sales. The Enhanced-911 Program receives the .325-cent portion of the use tax. For instance, the total amount of the July reimbursement check was $18,600. Of that, the E-911 Program received about $5,000.
The General Fund sales tax continues to perform well, producing $98,280 through sales made in June. This amount was less than the amount received in July of last year, but the year-to-date total continues to outpace the amount received through at this time last year. The 7-month total for this year is $672,044; that’s $47,248 more than was received in the first 7 months of 2021.
The amount received so far this year is on a pace to meet or exceed last year’s record amount of $1,122,323, the second consecutive record-setting year for General Fund sales tax revenue.
Presiding Commissioner Larry Miskel, R-Hermann, said he thinks the sales tax receipts are strong in part because of the high rate of inflation.
“I think that’s (the sales tax total) a reflection of the economy,” he said.
Also at last week’s Commission session, county administrators heard that one of the three candidates running to succeed Miskel as county government’s top administrator filed a complaint with Sheriff Scott Eiler that one of the other candidates had placed campaign signs within state highway right-of-way, which is not allowed. According to Miskel, it seems the complaining candidate gave the sheriff a deadline for removing the signs.
However, noted County Clerk Lesa Lietzow, “That’s not the sheriff’s job.”
“If he has a complaint, he needs to contact the (state) Ethics Commission,” the presiding commissioner said.
After initially considering standard air-conditioning units to replace a pair of large pieces that serve several courthouse offices, local electrician and HVAC dealer Chad Grannemann will reconsider using so-called “mini-split” units that are placed usually within individual rooms. Lietzow said Grannemann will be providing a price quote for the air-conditioning units.
Miskel noted that on July 20 he will be meeting with staff from consulting engineers Archer-Elgin about a potential elevator at the courthouse. First considered about two decades ago, the possibility of installing an elevator was raised most recently by courthouse staffers offering suggestions on what courthouse upgrades the County Commission should consider for using a portion of the $2.8-million American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.
He’ll also discuss storage buildings being recommended for construction at outlying county properties, such as the Sheriff Department’s satellite office in Swiss and the Road Department in Drake.
This will not be a public meeting, Miskel said, and he added that no decisions will be made during the meeting on any proposed projects.
Lietzow reported that a possible roadblock had been cleared in distributing the law enforcement sales tax money to municipalities. The County Clerk’s Office and the Sheriff’s Department were using different population figures for the cities in determining what portion of the 25 percent setaside for cities would be allocated to each of the five municipalities that will receive funds.
“We had to come up with the same (population) numbers or this wasn’t going to work,” Lietzow said. The two agencies were able to agree on population figures for the cities and developed a breakdown of the 25-percent portion of the half-cent sales tax for law enforcement. Here’s how the revenue-sharing project shakes out: Owensville will get 46 percent; Hermann will receive 36 percent; Rosebud will receive 7 percent; Bland will receive 4 percent; Gasconade will receive 3 percent.
“We reached out to (consulting attorney) Ivan (Schraeder) for advice on the split formula,” Lietzow said. “That’s the verbiage he is going to use to base the intergovernmental agreements on,” she said.
“Once the agreements get here, I think we’ll be able to plug some numbers in,” the county clerk said.
The Commission agreed that the 75-25 split would be reviewed annually.
There will be no Commission session on July 28. The members of the Commission are scheduled to work that day at the Gasconade County Fair in Owensville.
Meanwhile, County Collector Shawn Schlottach is recovering from a concussion she suffered in a horseback riding accident recently. An experienced rider, Schlottach fell from her mount and days after the mishap was diagnosed with having a concussion. County officials said it was unclear how long she might be away from the Collector’s Office.
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