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County Council approves Odenwald's proposal to reduce tax rate by 2.25 cents


September 21, 2005 - By LAURA UHLMANSIEK

Staff Reporter

St. Louis County taxpayers will see a reduced tax rate when they receive their real estate and personal property tax bills.

The County Council last week reduced the county's tax rate by 2.25 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The proposal, sponsored by Councilman Kurt Odenwald, R-Shrews-bury, reduces the county's tax rate to 55.75 cents per $100 of assessed valuation from 58 cents per $100 by cutting the debt service tax rate.

The council voted 6-0 to approve the new tax rate. Councilman Mike O'Mara, D-north county, was absent from the vote.

"I'm very pleased that the entire council supported the tax rate that I proposed," Odenwald told the Call. "I realized that it was a modest tax cut and I never characterized it as anything but that."

Odenwald estimated that a taxpayer with a home valued at $200,000 will save about $8 because of the tax cut. When considering the entire county, Odenwald said $5 million will remain in taxpayers' hands.

The debt service fund is the only fund that would receive less revenue through the tax-rate cut, and so the county will not have to make cuts in the county's operations, Odenwald said. The debt service fund, which is used to redeem bonds and the accumulated interest, comprises 8.5 cents of the county's tax rate.

Director of Administration Jim Baker, who spoke on behalf of County Executive Charlie Dooley, told the council that the tax-rate reduction was a poor policy for the debt service fund.

In an e-mail to councilmen, he stated that the tax-rate reduction would prevent the county from restoring the reserves it had lost last year when the county shifted the debt service fund's 8.5-cent tax rate to the general fund to compensate for stagnant county revenues.

Although Dooley has the power to veto the reduced tax rate, Mac Scott, Dooley's spokesman, told the Call Monday that because the bill had the support of more than two-thirds of the County Council, the amount needed to override a veto by the county executive, Dooley will not veto the bill.

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