County seeks gross receipts tax increase

By Argen Duncan: PNT senior writer

The Roosevelt County Commission wants to impose a gross receipts tax to help fund health care for people who can’t afford it.

At their meeting Tuesday in the county courthouse, commissioners unanimously passed the notice. State regulations require a public hearing before the tax becomes reality.

County Manager Charlene Hardin said the tax of one-sixteenth of 1 percent on the sales of all taxable goods and services in the county would raise $147,594 the first year, judging from the last fiscal year’s numbers. The money would go to the state’s county-supported Medicaid fund and is returned to the county for indigent health care.

“It’s just a requirement that we have to do to provide for our citizens,” Hardin said later Tuesday.

The state mandates that counties pay a certain amount into the county-supported Medicaid fund, she said. That amount is based on taxable gross receipts in the county from the previous fiscal year.

Hardin said Roosevelt County has previously used money from its indigent fund, which is supported by a separate gross receipts tax.

“What happens is, every year we run out of money in our indigent health care fund, so this (new tax) is another way of meeting our indigent needs,” Hardin said.

The new gross receipts tax would free indigent-fund money for other uses, she said.

If the commission passes the tax, Hardin said, it would take effect in July, the beginning of the next fiscal year.

The ordinance imposing the tax does not have to go to voters, and citizens can’t petition against it.

In other business, County Assessor Tex Belcher told commissioners that the state is requiring counties to have an outside company print and mail their property value notices, which inform residents of the value of and tax owed on their property. He said the reason given was to have uniformity among value notices for people who own property in more than one county.

Belcher’s office currently handles value notices in house at a cost of $3,000 per year. He said an outside company could charge $8,000. However, he was still investigating to see if another company would cost less and if there was actually a statute mandating the change.

Fast facts
New gross receipts tax public hearing
When: 9 a.m. Feb. 3
Where: Roosevelt County Courthouse commission room