HERMANN — Sheriff Scott Eiler acknowledges that recent comments by Owensville Mayor John Kamler might make his task harder to win approval of a half-cent sales tax for law enforcement, but he …
HERMANN — Sheriff Scott Eiler acknowledges that recent comments by Owensville Mayor John Kamler might make his task harder to win approval of a half-cent sales tax for law enforcement, but he told the Gasconade County Republican that he will push forward to convince voters the tax is needed.
At the County Commission session held Jan. 6, Kamler said he wanted to clarify that city officials have not formally endorsed the ballot issue. “I haven’t had a conversation with anybody” about the proposed tax, the mayor said, adding, “I don’t want people thinking I’m out there pushing it.”
Indeed, the mayor said he has concerns about adding to the total sales tax charged to shoppers. “I don’t want to see our sales tax go up,” he said.
Eiler noted earlier that he had support from Owensville for the tax, but he was referring to support voiced by Owensville City Marshal Robert Rickerd. A key part of the sales tax proposal is that the revenue generated by the countywide tax would be shared with five of the six municipalities in the county, all the cities which have a certified law enforcement officer on duty. Based on population, Owensville would receive the largest portion of the 25-percent set aside for municipalities.
Eiler has yet to persuade Hermann Police Chief Marlon Walker or other Hermann officials to endorse the proposal. The sheriff said in conversations with the police chief it was clear that municipality felt it should receive a larger share of the set-aside.
If the sales tax is approved in April, the County Commission will begin crafting intergovernmental agreements with the five municipalities regarding the sharing of the revenue. According to the Commission’s consulting attorney, if an agreement can’t be reached with a city, that municipality’s portion would be kept in the 25-percent portion and figured into the amount to be distributed to the cities.
Eiler was scheduled to have floor time Tuesday evening when Owensville’s Board of Aldermen convenes for their second meeting of the month. The meeting was moved back one day due to the holiday for Martin Luther King, Jr., Day.
Budget preparation — and consideration for pay raises
At last week’s Commission session, county administrators moved a step closer to final adoption of this year’s operating budget.
Presiding Commissioner Larry Miskel, R-Hermann, and Northern District Associate Commissioner Jim Holland, R-Hermann, voiced support for pay raises of 5 percent for Road Department employees, 4 percent for courthouse employees, coupled with a base pay of $14 per hour accompanied by the long-standing 5-cent-per-hour increase for each year of service and a 5-percent increase for Sheriff’s Department employees.
Workers in administrative positions will have a $16-per-hour base pay and Road Department employees will have a $15-per-hour base pay. Southern District Associate Commissioner Jerry Lairmore, R-Owensville, was absent after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
Being able to boost pay for county government employees was a primary focus of the Commission, Miskel said.
“We knew coming into the budget process that we’d have to address salaries,” he said.
That includes, also, a slight boost for the various elected officials through a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA). But that amount is yet to be determined.
“In my nine years here, we’ve given employees an increase every single year — except elected officials,” Miskel said.
Whatever the COLA amount is, it will be only for this year; to continue the COLA will require action each year.
“If we decide to do it next year, it has to be part of the budget process,” the presiding commissioner said.
Historically strong start to county sales tax figures
Last year’s strong sales tax performance has put county government in a more solid fiscal position than officials can remember in recent years. County Clerk Lesa Lietzow, the county’s chief budget officer, said it appears the General Revenue Fund could end the year with a balance of about $250,000 — the largest in recent memory. Miskel credited the various elected officials with prudent spending requests and keeping a close eye on their agencies’ operating budgets throughout the year.
“They do a phenomenal job; I’m really proud of them,” he said.
Regarding the county’s General Revenue Fund sales tax, the new year is beginning where 2021 ended: With a large reimbursement check from the Missouri Department of Revenue. The January check, reflecting sales made in December, is for $106,172 – the largest amount in January in any of the past six years. This month’s amount compares with $80,575 received in January of last year.
Also, the new year is off to a good start regarding the 1.325-cent use tax that became effective in October. The use tax is assessed to purchases made from out-of-state vendors. In December, the county received $9,401 generated by sales made in November. This month’s use tax check is for $11,214. The county keeps 1 percent of the tax while Gasconade County Enhanced-911 receives .325 cents of the tax.
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