Madison - St. Clair Record

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County using loophole to keep excess tax dollars, according to Treasurer

By Hanna Nakano | Dec 16, 2015

For years, the Madison County Board has been stockpiling excess funds instead of returning money to taxpayers, according to County Treasurer Kurt Prenzler.

Prenzler told the Record he is concerned that board members will vote to transfer $3.2 million excess in the general fund to the county’s capital projects fund, something it has been doing for the past three years, at a board meeting Wednesday.

According to Prenzler, county law prohibits the general fund from maintaining more than six months worth of reserves – approximately $23 million. 

“Year after year, the County leadership has padded the budget,” he said. “And year after year, this has produced annual surpluses of $3 to 4 million.”

Since 2012, $15.16 million dollars in excess funds have been transferred to the capital projects fund, according to data Prenzler provided. 

He said that if that money had been returned to taxpayers, it would shake out to roughly $73 per person, over the age of 18. Instead, he said, it sits in the capital projects fund, accruing interest for the county.

“The question is, why does the county continue to levy for funds that are not needed The money belongs back into the hands of the people who earned it,” Prenzler wrote in an official press release from the Madison County Treasurer’s office.

The capital project fund is used to improve county buildings and purchase property and equipment – projects that need to be funded, but Prenzler says the county is going about it the wrong way.

““It’s been a deceptive practice year after year to shovel money into the capital projects fund,” Prenzler said. “At the end of the fiscal year there is money left over and rather than return it to taxpayers the County Board votes to transfer it.”

Prenzler is running for county board chairman against incumbent Alan Dunstan. His platform right now is lowering taxes.

“That's because I believe that if the money is not needed, then it should be your pocket,” he said. “It's that simple.”

Prenzler has proposed decreasing the levy by 10-percent, or $3.5 million, which he says would reduce the burden on taxpayers.

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