BOA plans sales tax workshop with park directors

Dave Marner
Managing Editor

A proposal to increase a designated quarter-cent park sales tax to a half cent sales tax is expected to be placed on Owensville’s Municipal Election ballot in April, pending final approval by the city’s Board of Aldermen.

Aldermen and members of the appointed Park Board are scheduled to discuss the issue further in a workshop scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 3, at City Hall. Aldermen have also scheduled discussion on the future of having a municipal court in Owensville.

City Administrator Nathan Schauf said the ballot language, as presented during the joint workshop Dec. 10 between aldermen and Park Board members, meets requirement for “legal language,” according to the city’s attorney. Schauf said the question was brought up at the workshop if adding language to the ballot question should include direct references to states statutes addressing which city governing board controls these tax funds.

The ballot language, as presented earlier this month reads: “Shall the City of Owensville eliminate the existing real property tax of 3.358 mills per dollar of assessed valuation for public parks and in its place increase the sales tax for Local Parks from the current 1/4 percent to 1/2 percent for the purpose of providing funding for the Local Parks for the City of Owensville.”

The term mills in tax collection refers to tenths of a cent. This tax was established by a vote of Owensville residents in the mid-1940s when the city’s park system was formed with an administrative board overseeing spending.

City residents currently pay 33.58 cent per $100 of assessed valuation in property taxes to support the park system. An equal amount is also levied for the city’s general revenue fund. The city also has a debt service levy of 71.78 cents per $100 assessed to generate revenue to repay street bonds and construction of the park’s water park.

The city’s total tax levy for 2018 is $1.3894 per $100 of assessed valuation. Those figures for each account are at the ceiling authorized by law, according to a recent report from the state auditor’s office.

Aldermen have previously stated that elected officials should have spending control over sales tax funds previously approved in a quarter-cent ballot question approved by city voters in 2006. The current sales tax was approved on a question which allowed voters to enact a designated sales tax for park operations. A similar question could allow for a designated sales tax for storm-water control improvements. 

That issue over who should control park spending of the designated sales tax was brought up by aldermen during the previous two budget planning cycles during the springs and summers of 2018 and 2017.

The workshop will be open the public.