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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Auditor: Sales tax doing its job

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The city sales tax is doing exactly what it was intended to do, holding down property taxes, said Terry Galloway of the CPA firm Almquist, Maltzahn, Galloway and Luth.

Galloway reviewed with the McCook City Council the city's financial statements from last year at Monday night's regular meeting. He added that the city has also done an excellent job maintaining the current property tax levy of $.319044, the same since 2002.

In 2009, sales and use taxes receipts generated $727,180 for property tax relief for homeowners in the city and $727,180 for infrastructure improvements.

The one-half cent city sales tax, approved by voters in 2008, generated $727,000 in revenues. Half of that amount goes to the city for infrastructure improvements and the other half goes to the McCook Economic Development Corp.

Several benchmarks from the audit included:

* $193 was generated per person last year in city sales tax, compared to $273 this year and $200 as the average in similarly-sized communities. The number is little higher than the statewide average as McCook is a shopping hub for about 35,000 to 40,000 people.

* City homeowners paid less in property tax than those in comparable areas: $116 was generated per person for property taxes last year, $115 this year, with $140 as the statewide average. City sales proceeds has helped to keep this down below the average, Galloway said. The peer group used in the audit were communities ranging in size from 3,001 to 10,000.

* increases were suggested for water and sewer rates, with the audit showing water debt ratio coverage at .66 last year, 1.89 this year and 2.00 recommended. Sewer debt coverage ratio was 1.61 last year, 1.06 this year with 2.00 recommended.

* outstanding debt: anything under 3 percent is excellent, Galloway said, with the city at 0.05 percent last year and 0.37 percent this year.

On the whole, the council seemed pleased with the audit report. Councilman Aaron Kircher commented afterwards that he "liked where we're at and where we're going."

During Council Comments at the end of the meeting, Mayor Dennis Berry complimented city staff and department heads for their fiscal responsibility, noting that debt is less than 1 percent and the property taxes have been kept low.

Also during Council Comments, Councilman Mike Gonzales mentioned that City Clerk Lea Ann Doak was recognized for 35 years with the city at the employee recognition dinner.

Gonzales added that although he appreciates getting people's input about a public safety center, he did not appreciate the anonymous letter he received in the mail recently about the subject.

"If you want me to take you seriously, sign the letter," he said.

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