Tax allocation question returns |

Tax allocation question returns

Once again, the Garfield County Human Service Commission is questioning the appropriation of funds from a county sales tax. Carrie Click

Once again, the Garfield County Human Service Commission is questioning the appropriation of funds from a county sales tax. During a candidates’ forum Wednesday morning sponsored by the Human Services Commission, Garfield County commissioner candidates were asked about the sales tax revenue.In 1996, Garfield County voters passed a 0.75 sales tax throughout the county. Half the money was appropriated to the county road and bridge department, and a quarter went to an emergency communication system. The final quarter went toward “public health and human services to more adequately serve the youth, seniors and other public health and human services’ needs.” However, after the tax was approved, the Garfield County Fairgrounds, the Garfield County Fair, and CSU Extension, which administrates 4-H activities in the county, were added as recipients of the money that comes out of the human services portion of the tax. This isn’t the first time the human service commission has questioned the distribution of sales tax funds. Commission members such as Advocate Safehouse executive director Julie Olson expressed concerns over fund allocation last year, though distribution hasn’t changed since then. Currently, the fairgrounds, fair and 4-H receives almost 20 percent of the sales tax. Public health nursing receives 38 percent, and human services receive 42 percent. More than 30 human service agencies must apply for funding each year through a grant process, though the fair and fairgrounds and 4-H receive money each year automatically. Human Commission chairperson Shelly Hanan, who moderated the forum, asked commissioners how they planned to evaluate the counties’ current needs and assess whether to re-distribute the tax monies to meet the current needs of Garfield County’s citizens.Garfield County Commissioner Larry McCown said another source has to be found to fund 4-H, Extension, the fair and the fairgrounds. He said it’s a matter of allocating resources. “I sit on the board that distributes the money for human services,” McCown said. “It’s never enough.” Commissioner John Martin said he would like to hear from citizens about whether the percentages of funding should be changed, but felt that 4-H “provides service to youth.” Julie Olson, a member of the Human Services Commission and director of Advocate Safehouse Project, was most vocal about the discrepancy.”You’re pitting us against each other,” she said, about human service organization’s annual competition to receive money from the sales tax, while other entities receive funds without going through the grant process. The Garfield County Human Services Commission is made up of more than 33 members that advise and inform county commissioners about community human service issues. Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518cclick@postindependent.comHow much money?In 2003, the 0.75 county sales tax generated the following funds: Garfield County Fairgrounds $22,000Extension/4-H $81,000Garfield County Public Health Department$234,000Garfield County Human Service grants $288,000Human service organizations must apply for money from the human service pot. Note: A separate line item was not available for Garfield County Fair, though documents from the 2004 fair indicate the fair received nearly $11,000 from the sales tax.

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