Property tax rates for Jasper County's general revenue fund will go up, but not by as much as they could have.
A drop in property values in the county overall and a drop in sales tax revenue this year, meant that the Jasper County Commissioners could have set a rate that would have jumped by more than 50 percent, but they chose to increase it by a lesser amount.
The rate will increase from 7.53 cents per $100 of assessed valuation last year to 10 cents this year.
Jasper County Auditor Richard Webster said the county could legally have set the rate at 11.48 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, but commissioners decided against that.
Webster said higher sales tax collections last year due to the Joplin tornado meant a much lower property tax rate, but he warned last year that the rate this year would likely rebound.
Webster said last year, the owner of a $150,000 house would have paid $21.46 in property taxes to the county general revenue fund. With the 10 cent rate the commissioners approved, that property tax bill will be $28.50.
“The levy is directly affected by peaks and valleys in both assessed valuations and sales tax proceeds,” Webster said. “The past five years levy has averaged 9.2 cents per $100 in assessed valuation, and our assessed valuation has been right around $1.5 billion.”
Webster said total adjusted property values in the county were down by about $9 million from approximately $1,478,000,000 in 2012 to $1,471,000,000 this year. He said sales tax receipts were also down in the county compared to last year.
Western District Commissioner Darieus Adams said an increase in revenue for the county would be nice, but he didn't feel comfortable raising the tax rate by more than 50 percent.
“Looking at the general revenue, my thought is, obviously I think the 11.48-cent rate would be great and certainly it would be justified,” Adams said. “And I do think Richard set the table last year that that was an exceptional year that forced is to that 7-cent rate, so I don't think it's a huge shock that that number needs to be adjusted this year.
“The $1.8 million in revenue that would be produced by the 11.48-cent rate would be great, an increase of $700,000. But I think looking at the budget, what was projected, and maybe to try to catch up some of the shortfall from last year and put everything back on a level playing field, I think the 10-cent rate makes more sense, which gets to $1,572,000 in revenue, which is an increase of about $400,000.”
The commissioners also set the rate for those who live in the rural area of the County Common Road District.
Property values in the road district rose slightly so the property tax levy decreased slightly from 20.36 cents per $100 of assessed valuation to 20.27 cents.