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Archive for Thursday, September 28, 1995

TAX GROUP LEADER VOICES CONCERN WITH COUNTY MILL LEVY

September 28, 1995

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Representatives of a tax watchdog organization briefed county commissioners on their views.

In case Douglas County commissioners had forgotten, Don Cashatt wanted to remind them that he and his fellow tax protesters like their government lean and inexpensive.

Cashatt, co-chair of the Douglas County Property Owners Assn., had asked to be put on the commissioners' Wednesday night agenda to address a laundry list of concerns about taxes and spending.

Cashatt said he was concerned about a report released this week by the state's Legislative Research Department, which said Douglas County's projected 12.6 percent increase in total valuation was the second highest in the state.

``If there is a valuation increase of 12.6 percent, then what plans are the commissioners making to reduce the mill levy so that there is not a flush of money and our taxes stay the same?'' Cashatt asked.

Douglas County Administrator Craig Weinaug said the commission had already decreased the mill levy that will fund the 1996 budget by about 4.5 mills, which is a percentage drop of about 15.5 percent.

``In fact, we lowered the mill levy by more than the value went up,'' Weinaug said.

The 1995 valuation figures, which will become final in November, define the tax base across which the taxes that fund the 1996 budget are levied. County officials anticipate the valuation will total $485 million, an increase of $54 million over the previous year's total.

Reading off the sales tax amounts from receipts for his recent purchases, Cashatt also expressed displeasure with the 1 percent countywide sales tax because of its regressivity.

``I started out one week keeping track of my sales tax and got so disgusted that I quit,'' he said.

Cashatt also said he was concerned about higher-than-anticipated costs for public projects and urged commissioners not to overbuild the new Douglas County Jail. Officials recently said the cost could run as high as $15 million, not the $11 million originally thought, if the jail is built to accommodate future expansion.

``I don't understand why we have to spend so much money to house a prisoner,'' Cashatt said. ``Is it a Holiday Inn or what?''

However, former County Commissioner Bob Neis, who is Cashatt's co-chair for the DCPOA, addressed the commission briefly and said he hoped the county would build a jail that would serve local needs for several years. He reminded commissioners that Johnson County quickly outgrew its jail, which was built in 1989, and already has built another facility.

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