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Cole County leaders told to brace for financial slam from virus-related business closures

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)

Cole County elected officials and department leaders are being warned to prepare for the looming economic impact of the coronavirus.

Auditor Kristen Berhorst sent an email Wednesday requesting that all county leaders be extra conservative with department spending until a clearer picture of the expected tax revenue shortfall can be obtained.

"We understand that some expenses related to COVID-19 are necessary and the day to day expenses to operate each office are expected," Berhorst said in the message. "Please be prepared that certain capital improvement requests might have to be delayed until we can see the full effect this pandemic is going to have on county revenue."

Berhorst also advised agencies supported by specific sales tax revenue streams to formulate alternative financial plans.

"I would like for the Capital Improvement Sales Tax, EMS Sales Tax and Law Enforcement Sales Tax to have contingency plans in place if we cannot move forward with all capital improvements that were planned for in the 2020 budget," Berhorst wrote.

Read the full email below:

"Due to the expected impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Cole County sales tax revenue in 2020 we would like each elected official and department head to be prepared for the possible effects on the County budget.

As the Budget Officer, and with the support of the County Commission, I would like to ask everyone to be conservative with expenditures until we can get a better idea of what effect the closure of businesses is going to have on the sales tax numbers the next few months.

We understand that some expenses related to COVID-19 are necessary and the day to day expenses to operate each office are expected.

Please be prepared that certain capital improvement requests might have to be delayed until we can see the full effect this pandemic is going to have on County revenue.

I would like for the Capital Improvement Sales Tax, EMS Sales Tax and Law Enforcement Sales Tax to have contingency plans in place if we cannot move forward with all capital improvements that were planned for in the 2020 budget.

Please also be aware that 60% of the EMS Sales Tax gets transferred to the General Fund to offset the rollback of property taxes."

Kristen Berhorst, Cole County Auditor
Email to all County department heads, elected officials

Check back here and watch ABC 17 News at 5 for more on this developing story.

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Joe McLean

Joe reports stories all across mid-Missouri, including our WasteBusters series of reports, and co-anchors ABC 17 News at 9 a.m. with Zara Barker.

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