The Department of Revenue has now racked up around $1.8 million that Dent County owes back to the state, the county commission learned at its regular Monday meeting in the county courthouse.
More than $1 million has already been withheld from Dent County this year, and commissioners Monday said they learned last week that DOR is upping that another $700,000.
Skiles reported that during a closed session commission meeting with Travis Elliott – the attorney on retainer for the Missouri Association of Counties – on the afternoon of April 20, Elliott told the commission he received a letter from the Department of Revenue indicating that even more sales tax had been incorrectly coded to Dent County than originally thought.
“Travis told me that, and it hit me just like a sledgehammer,” said Skiles.
DOR also provided the statute that it says gives DOR authority to withhold county funds, which is 67.525.
According to Skiles, they expect to receive their full sales tax in May. Skiles said that Elliott is talking to DOR about finding a way to pay back that (additional $700,000) that doesn’t involve completely choking off Dent County’s sales tax revenue. Additionally, it's unclear whether or not DOR may discover even more money that Dent County is responsible for paying back.
“They’re being very hazy,” said Skiles.
Due to an error at DOR, Dent County had been receiving retail sales tax money from The Doe Run Company for a number of years that should have been going to Iron and Reynolds counties. DOR subsequently withheld that amount from distribution without notifying Dent County officials.
County treasurer Denita Williams was left to figure that out for herself in February when expected funds did not arrive in county coffers.
The original $1 million withholding by the state resulted in the county not receiving sales tax of any amount until this month, when a partial payment of just over $35,000 came into the county.
Williams and presiding commissioner Darrell Skiles were left to quiz DOR for answers. Initially, according to Skiles, a DOR official explained that Dent County would not be receiving the aforementioned funds. Skiles inquired further, asking for DOR to provide the specific statute that gives DOR the authority to withhold these funds. Eventually, after months of very little information coming from DOR and with still no official written explanation, the commission voted at its March 29 meeting to seek council with Elliott. At the April 12 meeting, Skiles reported that Elliott had begun conversations with DOR’s legal counsel.
In the meantime, the county was left to take a stab at a new budget that incorporated the new totals. The budget hearing for the new 2021-22 budget is scheduled for May 17. Currently, a tentative budget is available to the public at the county clerk’s office. However, in light of DOR claiming that Dent County owes another $700,000, it’s uncertain how that budget might be impacted.
Also at the Monday meeting:
• Williams gave her monthly County Aid Road Trust (CART) fund report. For CART, Dent received $53,578.52, which is $4,381.27 down from the $57,959.79 at the same time last year.
• District One commissioner Wes Mobray reported that he has crews that will be grading on county roads 5610 and 6280, hauling rock on 6280 and hauling brush from 6500. Mobray also said that he has a county worker going to Springfield to get oil for chip and seal.
• District Two commissioner Gary Larson reported that he has crews grading 2110, 2130, 2140 and 2115, hauling material to 2150 and 2140 and hauling brush from along 2500.