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Sales Tax Increase; Repeal Of Real Estate, Property Tax On April Ballot

The Crawford County Commission voted Wednesday to approve an April ballot measure that will raise the county’s general revenue sales tax a half-cent while waiving the real estate and property tax until Dec. 31, 2023.

The measure would allow the county to balance its budget each year and contribute to the stabilization fund.

Residents will still have to pay real estate and property taxes, but what they pay will not go towards the county’s general revenue. Real estate and property taxes must still be paid to other taxing districts, such as schools and fire districts. County Assessor Kellie Vestal said such a measure would not change the work her office does.

The proposal was created by a committee led by Lesa Mizell. Mizell had been scheduled for commission meetings the previous three weeks, but was unable to attend. Mizell’s group passed it along to District 2 Commissioner Jared Boast. Boast read off the proposal Tuesday and said it was the only idea presented to the commission on how to erase a budget deficit that has led to a reduction of employees’ hours.

“We tried a tax increase (in 2016),” Boast said. “We asked people to come up with an idea. This is the first idea that’s come across the table.”

If passed, the collection would begin Oct. 1, 2018. County Clerk John Martin estimated Tuesday the county would gain around $700,000 in additional revenue for an entire year.

Presiding Commissioner Leo Sanders said he liked the idea of giving residents something in return for a tax increase.

Boast said it’s important for the commission and county officials to show taxpayers what they intend to do with the revenue.

“The point isn’t to throw another half-cent sales tax because we can’t pay our bills,” he said.

See more coverage on this topic in the Jan. 24 issue of the Independent News.

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