Cole County trims property tax rate again

For the fifth consecutive year, the Cole County Commission reduced the property tax rate for the county’s general fund.

The 2012 property tax rate was 10.96 cents for each $100 of assessed property value. On Wednesday, commissioners approved the 2013 levy at an even 10 cents.

Part of the reason for the cut is because the commission promised a 60 percent rollback in tax collections in 2008 when voters approved a sales tax to pay for ambulance service operations.

“Another reason was that our goal had always been to get our reserve fund at $5 million, and we’ve now exceeded that,” Presiding Commissioner Marc Ellinger said. “We hope that by giving this cut we can stimulate some growth.”

The estimated revenue for the general revenue fund, which includes money from real estate and personal property taxes, would go down from $1.45 million in 2012 to $1.3 million in 2013.

The commission did put the public works/road and bridge levy at 27 cents per $100 assessed valuation, which is the rate it’s been for several years.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, commissioners discussed with Sheriff Greg White how they wanted to deal with concerns over 911 service.

Earlier this month, White told the commission it was his belief that they needed to look again at the agreement with Jefferson City on the operation of the 911 Center, which is run by the police department.

White believes an administrative committee, made up of representatives from the sheriff’s department, Jefferson City police and fire departments, the county fire departments and the county ambulance service, would be better than the current oversight committee, which hasn’t met in more than a year.

“Making the 911 Center an independent operation would be best,” he said. “An administrative committee wouldn’t resolve all of the issues we have, but it would give equal voices to all who use this.”

The commission has until the end of October to make a decision on whether or not to renew the contract with the city for 911 dispatch service.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, officials from the county health department said the Missouri Attorney General’s Office has taken over the case to try and stop a home on Landing Creek Road from leaking raw sewage into ditches.

Efforts are underway to see if landowners can comply with what needs to be done, but if not, they could be prosecuted under the Clean Water Act.

In June, commissioners met with county health officials and Prosecuting Attorney Mark Richardson about the matter.

At that time, Richardson said he was dealing with owner Joseph Meidel on an unrelated criminal case and hoped clearing the criminal case would lead to resolution on the sewage issue.

However, the sewage continues to leak.

The commission has said that by law they and the health department cannot do anything about it. The county can investigate, but it’s then up to the county prosecutor to pursue action.

Eastern District Commissioner Jeff Hoelscher said he was glad to hear that some action was being taken since he continues to get calls from concerned residents in the area.

“You think about kids walking down these roads and being exposed to this, it’s scary,” he said.

Commissioners also gave approval Wednesday to a sliding fee schedule for immunizations at the county health department, starting Jan. 1, 2014.

In July, Health Department Director Marie People came forward with a plan in response to increased costs of vaccines.

The scale looks at a person’s family size as well as their annual, monthly and weekly income based on their level of poverty.

Services affected include the initial and annual well woman visits, family planning follow-up visits, and some sexually transmitted disease tests.

There are no sliding scales for things such as pregnancy testing and flu shots.

All children with Medicaid still receive free vaccines.

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