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story.lead_photo.caption Cole County Courthouse

The Cole County Commission approved the 2019 tax levy during its regular meeting Tuesday, raising the general revenue levy slightly.

The commission sets two tax levy rates each year — general revenue and public works. Both are due Sept. 1.

Last year, the commission set the tax levy at 7 cents per $100 of assessed valuation for general revenue and 27.2 cents per $100 of assessed valuation for public works.

Since 2009, commissioners have been reducing the general fund rate with a 60 percent rollback in tax collection because of the 2008 sales tax approved by voters to pay for ambulance and service operations. The county's plan raised money through a half-cent sales tax, with 60 percent of the money collected used to reduce taxes for all Cole County property owners. The rest of the money collected pays for the ambulance service.

Cole County Finance Officer Debbie Malzner suggested keeping public works rate at 27.2 cents per $100 assessed valuation, but raising the general revenue rate to 7.8 cents per $100 assessed valuation.

While the overall assessed valuation for Cole County was up 2 percent, Malzner said, sales tax revenue is flat so far this year.

Malzner noted a lot of counties get into trouble because their tax bases were mostly dependent on sales taxes, while Cole County has a balance between property and sales taxes. That means the county has to keep the two balanced and doesn't have to rely heavily on one form of tax.

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