On Nov. 7, 2017, voters will be asked to approve a 1/2-cent sales tax to help sustain Greene County’s General Revenue Fund. The half-cent would raise an estimated $26 million per year.
At the cash register, the new tax would equal a 50 cents for a $100 purchase. The money would be used help the County expand the jail, implement services to reduce jail population growth, reinstate Animal Control, meet environmental funding needs and provide financial assistance to municipalities.
The last time voters approved a general revenue tax was in 1984. Since the 1990 census, Greene County’s population has grown by about 38%, but County general revenue has not kept pace with the region’s economic growth.
To maintain a balanced budget, the County has incrementally reduced services to citizens and delayed facility maintenance needs to critical levels of decline. For instance, the County eliminated Animal Control Services in 2012.
The Commission expects further cuts to the 2018 budget by more than $3 million.
Forecasting increased budget constraints, in 2015 the County asked independent financial and business experts to assess County finances. This Financial Advisory Task Force acknowledged that despite the County’s excellent stewardship of taxpayer dollars, more money is needed to address the citizens’ growing needs and the County’s mounting financial burdens. They recommended the County ask voters for a half-cent general revenue sales tax.
The County considered several factors to determine what priorities this new tax would fund, including a 2014 report generated by the County and City of Springfield that showed the region’s three leading needs: