Tax Veto Overrides Threaten City, County Budgets

By Alan Van Zandt |

Published 08/19 2014 09:42PM

Updated 08/20 2014 11:28AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.)  Less than a month before reviewing possible overrides of Governor Jay Nixon's tax cut vetoes, legislators are hearing from municipalities across the state.

During Monday night's St. Joseph City Council meeting, council members passed a resolution urging state lawmakers to let the vetoes stand.

At stake are millions of dollars of funding for cities and counties.`

"Specifically for the City of St. Joseph, it would be a reduction of 3.8 million dollars," said Bruce Woody, St. Joseph City Manager.

"If we would take it out of one single department, it would be the equivalent of 36 police officers, about 34 firefighters, a reduction of about 2/3 of the revenue stream for the parks and recreation department or alternatively similar reductions in the health department," Woody said.

For Buchanan County, the veto overrides could cost as much as $2.2 million and would come from law enforcement budgets, capital improvements and ambulance service.

"These are kind of unfunded mandates," said R.T. Turner, presiding commissioner. "There aren't any of us against tax cuts, but when you make those without any conversation with counties or cities or how it would affect them."

Aside from the depth of the possible cuts, local leaders are concerned about their timing and how local municipalities were informed of their possible impact.

"Usually, tax cut bills are sent out to states as well as cities to put together a fiscal note with details about how much it might cost through loss of revenue," Woody said. "That wasn't done this time around."

In the end, government might be putting money in one of our pockets and taking it out of another. This would happen in the form of higher property taxes.

"You're just passing one tax burden on to another," Turner said. "Many of them are homeowners that struggle to pay their taxes now. All you're really doing sometimes is passing it from one to another."

The package of tax breaks includes those for power companies, restaurants, computer data centers and other industries.

St. Joseph Senator Rob Schaaf is the sponsor of a tax cut bill for industrial dry cleaners.

In their veto session starting September 10th, lawmakers can choose to override all, none or any combination of the tax cuts.

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