Nixon’s decision results in reduced reimbursements

A decision by Gov. Jay Nixon to restrict $400 million from the fiscal year 2014 budget has translated to reduced reimbursements to county assessor’s offices.

Phelps County Commissioners were made aware Tuesday morning of the affect Nixon’s decision had on the county assessor’s office.

A letter from the State Tax Commission of Missouri requests county assessor offices use a parcel rate of $2.88 rather than $3, which they were previously using, when requesting their quarterly reimbursements from the state.

According to a letter from Phelps County Assessor Bill Wiggins to County Clerk Carol Bennett, the drop from $3 per parcel based on the 2009 certified parcel count of 22,485 to $2.88 per parcel based on the 2011 certified parcel count of 22,335 has resulted in a $3,120.20 reduction from Wiggins’ 2013 budgeted state reimbursement revenue line item.

While the reimbursement rate dropped, Wiggins noted that the 2011 parcel count is less than the 2009 count, but not by much.

Wiggins said he was unsure how the governor could drop the rate of $3, which is the lowest allowed under Missouri statute.

A news release from the governor’s office states that Nixon exercised “his constitutional authority to restrict $400 million from the upcoming budget,” citing the additional spending appropriated by the legislature and the significant costs associated with House Bill 253.

Earlier this month, Nixon vetoed House Bill 253 citing its $800 million annual price tag when fully phased in and the potential for an immediate $1.2 billion revenue reduction if Congress passes the Federal Marketplace Fairness Act, which has already passed the U.S. Senate.

Wiggins said the reduction seems to be a yearly occurrence.

In 2006, the state reimbursement was $6.20 per parcel. In 2007, the state reimbursed counties $6 for each property parcel. It fell to $4 per property in 2009 and $3.41 during the legislative session after January 2011 before decreasing to what had been the current rate of $3.

“I budgeted accordingly as much as I could to counteract if they dropped my funding,” Wiggins said. “The theme in my office has always been doing more with less.”

In other business

• The county’s board of equalization has scheduled seven hearings for Wednesday, July 17, with the first starting at 9 a.m. in the county commission office at the courthouse in Rolla.

• Only one proposal was received and opened for supervised visitation and safe child custody exchange services with the Phelps County Family Court. The bid from Guarded Hearts LLC of Waynesville was taken under advisement.

• County commissioners reviewed the budget as of June 30, the halfway point through the budget year.