County government is required by state law to provide for critical local government needs, including law enforcement, courthouses, jails, and infrastructure like roads & bridges.
Today, however, they have only one funding source with which to meet these obligations: Property taxes. On top of this, property taxes are also required to cover a large portion of their local school district’s budget.
With the increasing costs for schools, roads, and law enforcement, it is easy to see why property owners feel squeezed from every direction. I have introduced HB 1230 as one potential solution. This bill would dedicate a small portion of the state sales tax revenue from each county to a fund that could be utilized by counties solely for infrastructure projects, and reduce the need for them to add additional levies on property owners to repair roads, buildings, or build a jail.
Not all the expenses incurred by county government are related to the residents actually living in the county, especially when it comes to law enforcement and roads. My proposal seeks to recognize that by taking a very small portion of the sales tax revenue and dedicating it to a fund that can be used by the counties to meet their infrastructure and law enforcement obligations.
It would divert 0.05% of state sales tax revenue to the fund, and grow to 0.25% over a five-year period. This would reduce the state government’s overall tax revenue slightly, instead dedicating it to infrastructure projects at a local level. The county would then have the option, by a majority vote of the commission, to access these funds for an infrastructure project. That decision would be referable by the voters in the county if they did not feel the project was appropriate. If a county did not currently have a need for projects, they could leave the money in the fund for it to be invested and grow until a future date.
Revenues are a little higher than expected this year, so I felt this was a good year to consider an out-of-the-box solution that would reduce pressure on property tax payers and help counties meet their obligations. Ultimately the Legislature will have to consider all the competing uses of sales tax revenues and decide their priorities. The bill had a hearing last week in the Taxation Committee, and sent by unanimous vote to the Appropriations Committee to be considered alongside other revenue and spending bills.
I would like to hear your thoughts on this bill or any other solutions you have for local property tax. Please contact me on my website, www.drewdennert.com