by Alan McArthur
The Southern Platte County Ambulance Board has voted to increase its tax levy by one cent.
The increase sets the district's tax levy at 9-cents per $100 assessed valuation.
The increase causes the tax revenue to increase by $58,784 to a total of $429,595, which is still less than the district's total budgeted expenditures for the next year of $499,838.
This means the district is still working to reduce the budget surplus after collecting a large amount in the district's first year of existence in 2006 with a levy set at 14-cents. The district had an income of more than $560,000 and only actually spent $348,000.
In 2007, the board set the levy at 8-cents, which caused an estimated $370,811 to be collected while the board actually spent approximately $462,189 for the budget.
In order to cover the total expenses, the board would need to set the levy at a rate of about 11-cents per $100 assessed valuation.
Before approving the tax levy, Bobby Kincaid made a presentation to the board and the audience.
“We have the lowest levy rate in the state of Missouri for an ambulance district,” said Kincaid. “This board has been through a lot. There have been accusations of having secret meetings, but there has not been one time it has been proven.”
Kincaid explained the reason behind taking in less revenue than the budgeted expenses.
“Most political subdivisions run (a surplus of) between 12 and 18 percent of budgets,” said Kincaid. “We are trying to hold the surplus down as much as we can. There is no way we can do it at 8-cents, at 9-cents it'll be close, and 10-cents puts in too much surplus.”
After the presentation, members of the audience were allowed to speak to the board.
Mike Moratz, of Weatherby Lake, asked the board why there was so much in the district's contingency fund.
“As of yet we have not had to spend much, but the laws have changed and if we had to use our attorney it would come from there,” said Kincaid.
Kincaid said the money was set aside to pay the lawyer for unexpected issues, such as when “pundits” had challenged the board and the attorney had to do research to answer their questions.
“We had an attorney who was paid $125 per hour, and we couldn't get any cheaper than that before. Then the attorney fees went up,” said Kincaid.
Another member of the audience spoke to the board.
“I addressed this group last year. I am not overjoyed with any tax, but after having to use the services, there are some things worth paying for and this is one of them,” said Nancy Pate, who lives near Waldron. “It is worth it, don't complain.”
The board then unanimously voted to set the levy at 9 cents.