Gov. Nixon meets with Fulton government officials, public school administrators

Gov. Jay Nixon is in Fulton on Friday, Aug. 1 to meet with local government officials and public school administrators about the effects of legislation passed in the 2014 session.

According to a press release from the governor’s office, Nixon will discuss the “impact of special breaks and exemptions” included in sales-tax related bills he vetoed in June. The discussion will take place at 10 a.m. at Fulton High School.

The governor has already made visits to Missouri cities such as Columbia, Cape Girardeau and Hannibal on the same topic.

An analysis from the Department of Revenue shows the set of House and Senate legislation could have a $351 million statewide impact. If the General Assembly overrides Nixon’s veto, the department estimates local governments would see the following deficit:

•Callaway County could lose $434,183,

•Fulton could lose $388,843,

•Callaway County Ambulance District could lose $217,100,

•Holts Summit could lose $121,834,

•Kindom City could lose $70,334,

•New Bloomfield could lose $4,801,

•Mokane could lose $1,451.

Fulton City Administrator Bill Johnson said the Legislature Research team estimated a $244,000 loss to the city.

In a recent Fulton Sun letter to the editor, Fulton Mayor Leroy Benton said the bills gave special tax breaks that would cost the city its ability to repay bonds for infrastructure improvements and eventually end in a water rate increase of 22 percent and a sewer rate increase of 15 percent.

Johnson said he’s hoping the legisture will allow Nixon’s veto to stand, adding that he doesn’t necessarily agree with either estimate but “any cut to local sales tax revenue is too much.”

“I don’t believe the legislature had a full understanding of the fiscal impact some of the sales tax legislation would have,” Johnson said.

Rep. Jeanie Riddle, R-Mokane, and Rep. Jay Houghton, R-Martinsburg, both voted for the legislation. In a response to Benton’s letter to the editor, Riddle called the response from Benton and Johnson “a knee-jerk reaction to erroneous information put forth by the Missouri Municipal League, their paid lobbyist with your taxpayer money.”

“…the financial implications to local government that Mr. Benton cited do not exist in the vast majority of the bills he listed. However, the few remaining bills resulting in tax cuts that do influence Callaway County communities receiving tax monies will be reviewed and I will take the action that best protects our communities and taxpayers,” Riddle wrote in her letter to the editor.

The Holts Summit Board of Aldermen passed a resolution showing support of Nixon’s vetoes. The Fulton City Council tabled a similar resolution at its last meeting.

Holts Summit’s resolution states the city would lose one of the following if legislators override the vetoes — four police officers, the cost of asphalt overlaying and annual concrete repairs or the entire parks and recreation staff.

“Anything detrimental to our city we’re going to oppose,” Holts Summit Ward II Alderman Thomas Durham previously told the Fulton Sun.

Callaway County Presiding Commissioner Gary Jungermann said he is “honored” the governor is visiting Fulton and hopes to gain more understanding of the potential impact of the bills. There are about six of the bills in question that don’t affect the county, Jungermann said, adding he thinks the Department of Revenue’s numbers might be too steep, but any deficit to the budget is unwanted.

The source of the commission’s concern, Jungermann added, is the lack of communication from state legislators.

“We don’t understand how the legislature can make a law that can impact revenue at a local level,” he said.

State Budget Director Linda Luebbering and Nixon’s Senior Legal and Policy Advisor Chris Pieper will lead a presentation and Q&A session.

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