Local governments, including Franklin County, could see significant reductions in revenue under tax exemptions approved by the Legislature in this year’s session, according to Gov. Jay Nixon.
Franklin County could see its tax revenue decline by $2.4 million annually, a spreadsheet on the governor’s website states.
But Presiding County Commissioner John Griesheimer said he thinks that number is “bogus” and that the loss would not be nearly that high for Franklin County.
For instance, he said an electricity transmission exemption would not affect Franklin County because it just applies to state sales taxes. Likewise, proposed exemptions for recreation, amusements and admissions as well as data centers should not greatly affect Franklin County either, he said.
However, Griesheimer said a proposed sales tax exemption for vehicles that are at least 10 years old and cost less than $15,000 could hit the county.
But he said the overall revenue loss is not as bad as what he first feared. It is unclear what the county’s loss of revenue could be from the exemptions or if the governor will veto them.
The Legislature passed eight bills on the last day of the session that would significantly impact state and local revenue, a news release from the governor’s office states.
Estimated Revenue Loss
Below is a breakdown of the annual funding reductions other local governments could see from the exemptions, according to the spreadsheet:
• Washington — $976,587
• Union — $443,301
• St. Clair — $133,818
• Pacific —$150,464
If the estimated revenue loss of $2.4 million for Franklin County is accurate, it would have a “huge” impact, according to County Auditor Tammy Vemmer. It could require budget cutting or amending the budget and using fund balances, she added.
First District Commissioner Tim Brinker agreed that Franklin County would have to make some tough budget decisions if the county lost $2.4 million in annual revenue.
The bills include “new sales tax exemptions for recreation venues, data storage and processing, used vehicles, supplies and equipment used in electricity generation, and laundries,” the release adds.
Loss of Services?
State revenue could be reduced by $425 million annually by the exemptions and $351 million per year for local governments across the state, according to the governor’s office.
“These reductions would impact cities and counties as well as other taxing jurisdictions, including fire protection districts, ambulance districts, and community improvement districts,” the release says.
Nixon said this will make it harder to provide services on the local level.
“We’re talking about firefighters and cops, libraries and ambulance services, snowplows and health inspectors, public transit and road repair,” he said. “Missourians deserve an explanation for why legislators rushed through $776 million in special breaks and exemptions on the last day of session, without accounting for even a penny of these costs in the budget they sent to my desk.”
Vemmer took part in a conference call with staff from the governor’s office this week on the issue. The governor’s staff indicated that the estimated revenue losses that local governments would see from the exemptions are conservative, Vemmer said.
However, she said the losses could vary from county to county, especially when it comes to certain exemptions such as for recreation venues. Areas such as Branson and Taney County could see a bigger impact on that particular exemption, Vemmer noted.