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After 20 years, the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) funding that was designated to complete the jail project will sunset on June 30, 2027. County officials are beginning to look at how the budget will be impacted when the funds cease.
At least half of the 1% sales tax revenues have been going to the Ringgold county sheriff budget to complete the jail project, originally estimated at $3.1 million.
Both cities and counties have the option to impose LOST as a means of raising additional revenue for specific projects and needs within their communities, with a successful public vote.
However, cities and counties don’t each get to levy the tax. If the ordinance contains a sunset provision, the tax remains in effect until that date. If there is no sunset provision, the tax stays in effect for an unlimited period until repealed in a subsequent election.
Thanks to a successful vote last spring, the City of Mount Ayr will receive LOST revenues beginning July 1, 2027.
Not more than 25% of revenue will be used for the design, construction, and operation of a public swimming pool / aquatic center. The remaining funds will be used for street improvements, economic development, and housing, or any other lawful purpose as determined by the Mount Ayr city council.
Sheriff Rob Haley talked with the county board of supervisors, during their regular meeting on Monday, January 8, to provide a brief funding update prior to annual budget workshop meetings.
Sheriff Haley reported he met with the county attorney, county auditor Amanda Waske, and one of the supervisors on Friday, January 5 to discuss LOST funds sunsetting at the end of FY 2026, and to “figure out how to retain what we have.”
While they discussed the county as a whole, sheriff Haley noted they are looking at talking with the city of Mount Ayr again about their contract.
Based on the number of calls for assistance during a three-month period in 2022, and January of 2023, sheriff Haley estimates 40-45% of calls come in from the city of Mount Ayr.
“I’d like to get something in writing, other than responding to emergency calls,” sheriff Haley stated, regarding the 28E agreement.
“Rob, your department currently has six deputies [in addition to the sheriff],” Supervisor Colby Holmes questioned, “how does that compare to the counties around us?”
It was estimated Taylor county has a total of 10, Adams county has at least 7 including the sheriff, Leon and Lamoni have their own police departments, and Decatur county also has 6 including the sheriff.
“Are the dispatchers the same as other counties,” supervisor Randy Taylor questioned, “are the hours per person about the same?”
While figures were not available at the time of the meeting, it was noted that they have been short staffed for quite some time. The sheriff’s department has been training one new hire and they are moving forward with additional testing of another candidate.
Mount Ayr Record News staff requested information regarding the number of calls to towns within the county.
Sheriff Haley noted his staff was keeping track of calls in 2023, estimating the percentage of calls coming from each community as follows:
40-45% Mount Ayr
15.7% Outside town
In January of 2023 alone, the sheriff’s department responded to 533 total calls.
“It takes significant hours to respond,” stated sheriff Haley.
According to Sheriff Haley, 34.9% of EMS/Fire calls are also within city limits of Mount Ayr.
CLARIFICATION: The following clarification is related to the “LOST funds spur discussion,” story that originally appeared in the January 18, 2023 issue.
A table showing the number of sheriff deputies by county noted Ringgold County had 7 law enforcement officers. That figure included deputy Matt Starmer (as listed on the Ringgold County website).
Starmer is no longer a full-time sheriff department employee, although he maintains his deputy status to fill in as needed. He works full-time as the motor vehicle/driver’s license deputy in the treasurer office.