Grim-faced local officials took turns painting a dark picture of what the loss of additional sales tax revenue would mean to county services during a roundtable discussion Thursday morning at Hannibal City Hall.
Grim-faced local officials took turns painting a dark picture of what the loss of additional sales tax revenue would mean to county services during a roundtable discussion Thursday morning at Hannibal City Hall. The event featured Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, who vetoed 10 bills Wednesday that contained a package of special sales tax breaks.
According to Nixon, the tax cuts would have an estimated $351 million impact on tax revenue at the local level around the state. In Hannibal, the estimated amount of lost revenue is $826,000.
Hannibal City Manager Jeff LaGarce acknowledges that figure could be challenged by supporters of the tax cuts.
“But even if it’s only one-third of that, it’s more than we can afford,” said LaGarce, who already is proposing a scaled-back city budget for Fiscal Year 2015 after watching a steady decline in sales tax revenue in recent years.
An $826,000 impact would likely impact as many as 17 city employees, according to LaGarce.
“I’ve not seen anything like this,” said Hannibal’s city manager regarding the General Assembly’s actions. “We’re grateful you (Nixon) vetoed them.”
LaGarce was not the only Hannibal city official concerned about the fiscal future of America’s Hometown.
“If we take an $800,000 cut we’d be in dire straights,” said Mayor Roy Hark.
Hannibal Mayor Pro Tem Kevin Knickerbocker, who noted that the city has already been engaging in fiscal “belt tightening” in recent years, said such a reduction would hit city services hard.
“If this comes to be we’ll have to make some very tough decisions,” he said. “It would mean a cut in the central services the public depends on. I can’t see us getting by without having to lay people off.”
Hannibal Police Chief Lyndell Davis indicated the budgetary impact would mean a slower response time and could limit his ability to staff special HPD units and the school resource officer position.
“I’d hate to have to deal with the impact of this. It would be quite substantial,” said Davis.
Hannibal Fire Chief Bill Madore indicated the results to his department would be “devastating.”
“It would shake us to our foundation,” he said.
Lost sales tax revenue would also hinder Marion County. In April, voters approved a sales tax increase of one fourth of 1 percent to help pay for the upkeep of county roads. At the time, Presiding Commissioner Lyndon Bode estimated the tax increase would generate around $900,000 annually. If the sales tax cuts were to be implemented, Bode says the anticipated amount of revenue to the highway fund would be sliced by roughly half.
At the Marion County Jail, lost revenue could impact staffing, which would increase the possibility of assaults, rapes, murders and suicides among prisoners, according to Sheriff Jimmy Shinn.