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St. Charles County sets tax rates

This year, as in years past, watching the St. Charles County Council set its annual property tax rate is about as dramatic as watching paint dry. There’s no drama because there are no taxes.

But the drama quotient may be ratcheted up a bit next year because of worries about county finances.  Financial issues may get more of an airing before tax rates are set next September if it is up to at least one county councilmember.

At two council meetings, on Aug. 28 and Sept. 11, County Councilmember Joe Cronin [District 1] said the council has to examine its finances next year long before setting its 2018 tax rate. To that end, Council Chairman Mike Elam [District 3] is expected to hold at least one council work session.

Cronin made the request after the council approved a resolution adopting a capital project and strategic plan for 2018-2022. He said the report suggests the county “hit a financial wall pretty quickly.”

“We’re facing a gradual slide in capital improvement funds available to us, which means we’re going to have to supplement with general revenue funds, which means we cannot keep the level of amenities this county has with a zero property tax,” Cronin said. He added that the council may face “some hard decisions where we’re headed as a county.” Capital improvements include buildings repairs, restorations and new structures.

At its Sept. 25 meeting, the council set the tax rate for the county’s general fund at zero for 2017 taxes to be paid by the end of this year. The county’s general fund covers most of its day-to-day operations. The vote was 6-0 with Cronin absent.

The council does set annual property tax rates for several funds including the road and bridge fund and the dispatch and alarm fund. The road and bridge fund was set at 18.79 cents per $100 assessed valuation and the dispatch and alarm fund at 4.22 cents per $100 assessed valuation.

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