OTTAWA — Putnam County sales tax will drop a quarter percent at the end of this year.
The Putnam County Commissioners approved a resolution Thursday to let a five-year sales tax increase expire at the end of 2013. The commissioners indicated that due to the efficiency of county officials over the past years, the county has been able to pay off extra amount of debt for the jail and landfill thus saving taxpayers $1.5 million dollars in interest.
After meetings with the commissioners, Putnam County Auditor Robert Benroth indicated the general budget was in good shape and agreed the one-quarter percent sales tax did not need to be renewed.
“This is remarkable that the county was able to lower their long term debts for the jail and landfill while not cutting back on services in the county,” said Benroth.
Putnam County Commissioner John Love said this has been a cooperative effort with department heads, employees and everyone working together.
“We took a proactive approach to the budget issues in 2008 and 2009,” said Putnam County Commissioner Vince Schroeder. “The silver lining is that people were willing to tighten their belts and become more efficient."
The quarter percent sales tax up for vote started Jan. 1, 2009, for general expenses. At that time, the Putnam County Commissioners raised the sales tax from 6.75 percent to 7 percent in the county because more money was needed in the general fund. In recent years, county employees took a 15-percent pay cut. This cut and the addition of the .25 percent sales tax has led to the county being able to successfully pay off their long-term debt.
County officials have been able to set aside nearly all of a $1.6 EPA-mandated fund for the jail to avoid paying $12,000 per year to maintain this amount in a line of credit. They currently have $800,000 in a jail trust fund collecting interest for the county.
The commissioners also have set aside the funds needed to finish paying off the jail bonds in a lockbox fund that is a line of encumbered funds in the budget. This loan will be paid off in two years.
In June 2016, the quarter percent sales tax for the jail will expire. The commissioners indicated it was a strong possibility this tax would also be allowed to expire.
“I feel good about being able to lower the sales tax,” said Love.
Putnam County Commissioner Travis Jerwers agreed stating this was a way to give back to the taxpayers.
Local retail business owner, Barney Beckman, commended the commissioners at the meeting.
“I’m glad you have been able to lower your long term debts and can feel good about lowering the sales tax,” he said.
Benroth said quarter percent sale tax generated $827,840.55 in 2012.
The current sales tax is 7 percent. As of Jan. 1, 2014, it will be lowered to 6.75 percent.