NEOSHO, Mo. β€” The Newton County Commission has approved a budget similar to the 2019 spending plan in scope but with a significant carryover to boost its general revenue fund.

The county's fiscal year 2020 budget anticipates almost $27 million in spending, including $11.7 million in general expenses and $5.6 million for county road and bridge work. The fiscal year began on Jan. 1. The 2019 budget amounted to almost $26.1 million.

A carryover of $3.6 million was paired with anticipated general revenues of nearly $10 million, making $13.8 million available in general revenues β€” about $2 million more than expected in expenses in the general revenue fund.

Newton County's general fund revenues come from a seven-eighths-cent sales tax, fees from county offices and state reimbursements. The county also receives federal money obligated for certain purposes and projects that are outlined in the current fiscal year's expenses.

Presiding Commissioner Bill Reiboldt said the budget includes work for road and bridge projects, and that the commission also plans to renovate the offices of the county clerk, county collector as well as the commission, and give eligible employees a 1% cost of living raise.

Even though Newton County doesn't get any of its general revenue from property taxes anymore, Reiboldt said he was pleased to see that assessed valuations across the county continue to grow. Assessed valuations for 2019 reached more than $918 million, a marked increase from 2018's valuation of more than $878 million.

"That's a figure we use to show that the county is growing steadily," Reiboldt said. "And that tells us as commissioners that we need to be planning for the future."

Reiboldt said that the amount of assessed valuation puts Newton County on a path to becoming a Class 1 county, similar to Jasper County, within a few years. According to the Missouri Association of Counties, a county gains Class 1 status after holding an assessed valuation of more than $900 million for five years.

Class 1 counties also must meet other requirements, such as paying for a county audit by the state auditor and building a juvenile detention center. Class 1 counties also can pass planning and zoning.

The growth can be seen in several residential construction projects, Reiboldt said, including the 55-home Whispering Oaks subdivision in northern Newton County. The county is also hoping to reap some benefits of construction projects just over the Jasper County line, Reiboldt said β€” a planned distribution center for Casey's General Stores near the intersection of interstates 44 and 49 may have an economic spillover. Casey's recently filed an application with the city of Joplin for a $43.9 million building permit.

In exchange for property and sales taxes that would be forgiven in intervals through 2033, the company plans to provide up to 125 jobs with average annual wages of $50,000, the City Council was told.

Joe Hadsall is the digital editor for The Joplin Globe. He has been the editor of the former Nixa News-Enterprise and has worked for the Christian County Headliner News and 417 Magazine.

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