Last week, the Platte County Commissioners were
proud to claim that their projected $9 million
in sales and local use tax for 2004 was exceeded.
At Thursdays commission meeting, First
District Commissioner Michael Short announced
that Platte County Treasurer Bonnie Brown reported
the total 2004 sales and use tax figure at $9.3
"Its nice to see that the two figures
combined came in over our budgeted amount,"
In Shorts comments on Thursday, he stated,
"Our auditor (Sandra Thomas) ran around like
Chicken Little crying that the commission was
running the county into the ground and that the
county was in financial crisis. The truth is that
there is no revenue shortage and there is no financial
According to the Platte County sales tax report,
and also according to Auditor Sandra Thomas, Platte
County has collected over $5.8 million in general
fund sales taxes for 2004.
However, according to Thomas, this is $480,579.27
short of the county commissioners' projected $6.3
million sales tax revenues.
Short acknowledges that Thomas statement
is correct, however, his reference at Thursdays
meeting was in regard to the combination of both
sales and local use taxes for the year.
"I feel its ridiculous to add sales
tax to use tax because thats not how it
started in January. Now they are saying that it
came in over what they projected," stated
Thomas. "They are losing site that the whole
discussion was over the sales tax number because
the actual increase was less then half of what
was projected. And thats being deceitful
to the public.
Thomas also said for the 2004 budget, she recommended
a 7% increase in general fund sales taxes. The
commissioners projected a 16.5% increase in general
fund sales taxes in their final adopted 2004 budget.
The actual increase was only 7.6%.
In determining the projected revenue budget for
the upcoming year, Short said there are three
main sources of revenue the commission must look
at including the general sales tax, property tax,
and the local use tax.
While use tax collections are up, overall total
revenues are lower than projected, according to
the county auditor.
"Its funny, because he didnt
want to talk about the property tax at all,"
said Thomas. "They lowered the property tax
levy and now theyre trying to blame the
shortage on my office. However, they say the local
use and sales tax are phenomenal. They need to
think about the impact their decisions are going
to have and not blame those decisions on someone
"While some other revenues are up, most
notably use taxes, there will still be a shortage
in revenues for 2004," said Thomas. "Several
others are below the commissioners' approved revenues.
These include recorders fees and sheriffs
fees, as well as the property tax. I estimate
the shortage to be in excess of $200,000.
According to Short, he just doesnt agree
with Thomas thought process on this issue.
"The sheriff and recorder both estimate
their revenue and then provide that to the auditor,"
said Short. "We dont estimate those
revenues. We adopt the figures that are provided
to us by the sheriff, recorder and in conjunction
with the auditors recommendation."
But Thomas said Shorts comment is simply
"Thats interesting because they (the
commissioners) raised those sheriff and recorder
fees from my recommendation," said Thomas.
Short said he feels as if the commission did
its job regarding the budget.
"The bottom line from our perspective is
the revenues the county commission is responsible
for estimating came in more than $200,000 over,"
"Everybody keeps losing site that she (Thomas)
is the budget officer. If there are shortages
in other revenue lines from other offices' budget,
the budget officer needs to take responsibility
According to Thomas, the commissioners arent
accepting full responsibility for their actions.
"When they raise revenues over $700,000
more than I recommended its more difficult
for me to deal with any shortages that may occur.
There are always some revenues that come in above
and some that come in below and you have to look
at the whole budget when approving it," said
Thomas. "They have as much responsibility
as I do because they approve the budget. Thats
like saying they are only choosing certain lines
they want to take responsibility for.