By Dennis Minich
The Cass County Commission adopted its appropriations order for 2022 on Dec. 30, allocating $106,927,936 to operate the county over the next 12 months.
Cass County Treasurer Steve Cheslik explained the actual working budget is less than half of that amount.
“The county budget is much different than ordinary business budgets. There are a lot of proprietary funds and fund transfers that look like expenditures when they are actually just moving money from one fund to another.
“The money is all accounted for and spent, but the actual budget for day-to-day operations is closer to $33 million and if you include some of the road and bridge money that comes out of general revenues, it comes to about $40 million,” Cheslik said.
Both Cheslik and Presiding Commissioner Bob Huston commented the county has had a good year in revenues.
“The taxpayers have blessed us well,” Huston commented at the meeting.
Cheslik later explained the majority of the county’s revenues come from sales taxes and Cass County had a record year.
“In 2004 the voters approved a plan where the county imposed a one-quarter cent sales tax with the tradeoff of eliminating the property tax. We still get a small amount from property tax, but we are primarily sales-tax driven.
“This year we generated $30,613,034.06, which is up over 14 percent from last year,” he said.
The sales tax has grown every year, but the jump this year was more than anticipated. Cheslik said there were a number of contributing factors.
“If you went to the Family Center or Sutherlands or the Home Depot you saw they were just packed. Because of COVID people weren’t going to Branson, they were buying tools and supplies,” he said. “You also can’t overlook inflation.”
“People also ate out more, some of the restaurants said they had their biggest years ever. Also, we don’t count on entertainment for a lot of our money like some places do. We have one bowling alley, one putt-putt course and two theaters, that’s it.”
He said despite the lack of attractions, there were observations that Cass County had become a destination for residents of Jackson County.
“Our COVID restrictions were not as strict so people were coming down from Blue Springs and Lee’s Summit,” said Cheslik.
“I have spoken with other county treasurers in the state and they all say they saw increases, but not as much as we had.”
Huston said the budget for 2022 is still “pretty conservative” with most departments recording only modest increases in their budgets. One exception is the Sheriff’s Department, which is adding about and additional $1 million, mostly in an attempt to add more deputies.
Cheslik noted the county is adding money to the reserves.
“We don’t want to get too carried away, because as good as it is, it will end at some point. Having the reserves will be important down the road,” he said.