Strong 2020 sales tax collection bodes well for county’s 2021 budget planning

CenturyLink to Collector: the check is in the mail

By Buck Collier, Special Correspondent
Posted 1/20/21

HERMANN — The response from CenturyLink was one that Gasconade County Collector Shawn Schlottach no doubt has heard countless times: The check is in the mail — somewhere.

Schlottach …

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Strong 2020 sales tax collection bodes well for county’s 2021 budget planning

CenturyLink to Collector: the check is in the mail

Posted

HERMANN — The response from CenturyLink was one that Gasconade County Collector Shawn Schlottach no doubt has heard countless times: The check is in the mail — somewhere.

Schlottach last Thursday presented the County Commission with what she described as “a whole stack of paper” representing late mail arrivals of personal property tax payments. There were 11 separate documents representing payments that arrived after the Dec. 31 deadline. Late payments have to be reported to the county administrators.

“I’ve got a feeling I’ll be in here a few more times” with late payments, Schlottach said.

One of those will be a big payment — the one from CenturyLink that a company representative told Schlottach was postmarked Dec. 23, which would make the Monroe, Louisiana-based telecommunications company immune from a late-payment penalty. The company representative told the collector that Gasconade County’s payment — $9,253 — was one of 2,400 documents put in the mail the same day.

Schlottach said she understands the U.S. Postal Service is “overwhelmed” making deliveries of online purchases, along with all the other pieces of mail. And, she added, CenturyLink’s payment is probably one of many tax payments hung up somewhere in the postal service delivery pipeline. “I know there’s a ton out there,” she said.

In other matters, County Treasurer Mike Feagan said this year’s budget process has been smoother the 2020 version, thanks to a better start regarding General Revenue sales tax. In formally presenting the sales tax figures, Feagan reported a January reimbursement check from the state for $80,575 — more than $2,000 larger than the January 2020 amount.

“I know last year in January we were pretty disappointed,” Feagan said, referring to a check that was almost $12,000 less than the amount received in January 2019. “This year we have started off on not a too-bad foot.” 

Not just that, noted County Clerk Lesa Lietzow, who pointed out that the county’s beginning balance this year is much stronger than it was a year ago. 

A year ago the Commission began crafting a budget with an overall beginning balance of $122,256. 

In the all-important General Revenue Fund, which fuels the bulk of county government operations, the balance was a paltry $22,000. This year began with a beginning balance of $335,928, thanks in large part to a stronger-than-anticipated sales tax. Indeed, Gasconade County received the largest amount of sales tax ever — $1.037 million.

In addition to the sales tax revenue, county officials pointed to careful attention paid to the budgets of the individual departments by the officeholders as putting the county in a much more advantageous position at budget-making time this year. Presiding Commissioner Larry Miskel, R-Hermann, noted earlier that administrators did not have to direct the vast majority of officeholders to rework their budget numbers, an all-too-familiar chore in the past several years.

“That was a very good statement to make,” said Lietzow.

“Not one of them was really out of line,” Miskel said, adding that the officeholders “just don’t do that.”

Lietzow said some of those previous years’ efforts to further reduce budgets were unsettling.

“I was worried a couple years here that we weren’t going to make it because they were cut too deep,” she said.

This year’s budget contains a 3-percent pay raise plus an extra 5-cents-per-hour increase for each year of service. The spending plan is available for review at the County Clerk’s Office and is scheduled to be formally adopted by the Commission at its Thursday, Jan. 28, session in Hermann.

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