Webster County Fiscal Court held a public hearing on Monday morning for the purpose of discussing the county’s tax rates for this year. With no members of the public appearing to address the court, magistrates decision to freeze taxes at the same rate as 2020 passed unanimously.

Each year, magistrate must set a county tax rate, which will be passed on to property owners. Under state law, the fiscal court can choose to lower the rate or adopt the compensating rate with a simple majority vote.

The compensating rate takes the current tax base into account, and allows the county to collect approximately the same amount of revenue as the previous fiscal year.

The compensating rate is tied directly to the county’s tax base.

If the base goes up from year-to-year, the rate tax payers pay will be lower, and vice versa.

This year officials report a $20 million increase in the county’s tax rate, meaning the compensating rate would drop from the 18.8 cents per $100 of assessed value local property owners paid last year, to just 18.3 cents per $100.

By electing to keep the tax rate at 18.8 cents per $100 of assessed value rather than following the compensating rate of 18.3 cents, the county will collect $999,005 in tax revenue rather than $972,000, without issuing a tax increase to local residents.

Because the selected rate was higher than the compensating rate, the court was required to hold Monday’s public hearing for any members of the public who chose to protest the rate.

In related business, the Webster County Library submitted its yearly tax rates to the court for approval. The compensating rate will increase their taxes from 9.4 cents per $100 on real property and 12.84 cents per $100 on tangible personal property to 9.8 cents per $100 on real estate and 13.91 cents per $100 on tangible personal property.

“Every special purpose entity comes to the court with their tax rate,” said Judge Executive Steve Henry. “I wont say it was a rubber stamp, but its really always just been a pass through. This year it was put into law that we must approve or send that rate back.”

“We are working hard as a county to keep our rates the same,” said magistrate Tony Felker. “Its hard for me to approve an increase for someone else when we aren’t increasing ours.”

Library director Erin Russellburg presented the court with several increases in spending the library has face during the last year, including taking on the cost of maintaining the Dixon library building which it has only recently aquired from the county, and $17,000 in repairs to the Providence branch building, which is owned by the city of Providence.

In the end, magistrates voted unanimously to approve the library tax rate.

The court also voted to not exempt aircraft, commercial watercraft and inventory in transit from the annual tax rates.

In other business, the court approved the transfer of $25,000 from the general fund to the sanitation department. The county owns and maintains sewer lines in the Dixon area, which connect to the city of Providence’s waste water treatment lines.

“Its always been really close,” said Henry. “Previously, LGEA monies always helped to subsidize the sanitation fund. Recently we’ve had several pumps and a grinder go down, and we’ve had to spend a lot of money at the same time.”

Contact Matt Hughes at matt@journalenterprise.com or 270-667-2069

Contact Matt Hughes at matt@journalenterprise.com or 270-667-2069