City Seeks To Recoup Revenue Losses from County Error
JEFFERSON CITY - The Jefferson City Council acted Monday night on what members call an "inadvertent error" by the Cole County Commission which has left the county owing the city roughly $3.5 million in tax revenues. The council Monday night unanimously voted in favor of a plan to get some, but not all, of that money back.
The agreement, rushed to a vote by city leaders without the normal two-week waiting period, would allow the city to recoup $750,000 of money from surtax revenues that the county should have given to the city. The agreement is designed to avoid a court fight over the money.
Though the amount the county will pay the city without interest over the next 15 years only represents 21 percent of the amount the city should have received in the first place, a statement from a city spokesperson says $750,000 is the maximum amount the city could recoup in a lawsuit.
A city spokesperson explained the source of the "inadvertent error" came from a miscalculation in the county commission's office more than 20 years ago. The error concerned a computer program the county used to calculate revenues for a surtax on commercial real estate.
"This has been a tough issue," Councilman Bob Scrivener said at the meeting. "No one sitting on this council took this lightly, we all took a business attitude to try and do what was best for Jefferson City without shortchanging the other entities affected."
Jefferson City isn't the only entity affected by the county's error. Roughly a dozen different municipalities, school districts, and government entities were either overpaid or underpaid by the county as a result of the miscalculation.
For example, according to a mailer from the Blair Oaks School District, says the district received $774,000 it didn't deserve from the county. Jefferson City schools were overpaid by more than $2.4 million over 20 years. On the other hand, Cole County's library missed out on $417,000 in revenues, and the county's miscalculation shortchanged Cole County R-V Schools of more than $85,000. Cole County government overpaid itself by more than $418,000.
At least one of these entities says it questioned the accuracy of the county's math. According to the district's mailer, Blair Oaks school officials began to question the county's revenue numbers as early as 2006.
Calls to the home phone number listed for current Cole County Collector Larry Vincent were not immediately returned.