County tax increase on the horizon?

The complete restructure of Platte County’s tax system came up this week at an otherwise routine administrative session of the Platte County Commission.

Community activist David Park, who ran against presiding commissioner Ron Schieber last November, asked commissioners during public comments on Monday, May 6 if they planned to run another ballot issue this year, after the defeat of the jail tax in April. Specifically, he asked about the renewal of the half-cent park sales tax, which expires next year.

Second district commissioner John Elliott responded that the commission hired a financial advisor to look at all taxes in the county to determine a “proper tax structure.”

The first priority, he said, was to fund law enforcement. However, until the consultant’s work was done no decisions would be made.

Park asked if this meant county property taxes were also on the table.

“Yes and no,” Elliott said. “Until we know about Zona Rosa we’ll not know what our property taxes will look like. If we lose that deal then property taxes will have to be doubled just to make payments.

First district commissioner Dagmar Wood added that perhaps the property taxes would need to be tripled, with Elliott agreeing the taxes may need to be tripled “by the end.”

The current property tax is 6 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

The current commission has long stated it planned to restructure taxes, including the reduction of the parks tax and possible establishment of a law enforcement tax. However, an adjustment of taxes related to the Zona Rosa issue had not been publicly floated before this week.

The suit filed last November by Platte County against UMB Bank regarding financial responsibility for the parking garages at Zona Rosa is still in the hands of the court. The matter is scheduled for a bench trial before Judge James Van Amburg on Friday, May 24. The county has asked the court for a declaration regarding the legality of a demand that the county repay bonds issued in 2007 for infrastructure at Zona Rosa.

In the filing, Platte County seeks a declaration from the court that, contrary to UMB Bank’s stated position, the county never obligated itself to appropriate for or make payments on the Zona Rosa bonds. The county also seeks a declaration that the trustee UMB Bank’s arguments otherwise would violate the Missouri Constitution.

Last month, Van Amburg denied the county’s motion to halt UMB Bank’s efforts to seek information from elected officials after the county sought a summary judgement prior to trial.

According to online court records, Schieber and Elliott were scheduled for depositions on Thursday, April 18; Wood on Friday, April 19 and auditor Kevin Robinson on Tuesday, April 23. UMB Bank has also filed a cross-motion for summary judgement.