For decades the City of Rogers has felt a disproportionate impact from the Metropolitan Fiscal Disparities program (“Fiscal Disparities). This is a mandatory tax base sharing program whereby a portion of the Rogers tax base has been contributed to a Metropolitan pool to be used by other communities, with the large majority of those dollars leaving Rogers permanently. Rogers has lost 15-20% of its tax base annually to the program on a net basis. This amounts to Rogers taxpayers losing more than $1 million in revenue per year to this program for at least the last 10 years. Rogers has consistently ranked as the number one or number two City (out of 180 jurisdictions) in terms of highest percentage of tax base lost. This results in a significant portion of local revenues being unavailable for the purposes of tax relief or to fund local services/facilities. While the Fiscal Disparities program does not affect how much the City spends as part of its annual budget, it absolutely impacts the City’s tax rate as well as tax bills for individual property owners.
For the past five years the City, in cooperation with our elected State representatives Senator Warren Limmer and Representative/House Majority Leader Joyce Peppin, have pursued relief from these extreme impacts. After many years of hard work, documentation, one-on-one meetings and legislative committee testimony by all involved, those efforts finally paid off in 2017 with important new legislation being adopted. Specifically, House Majority Leader Peppin achieved inclusion of Fiscal Disparities relief language in the 2017 House Omnibus Tax Bill, which was ultimately approved by both houses and the Governor. This new legislation will result in additional funding to Rogers in the form of a distribution from the Statewide General Property Tax. The distribution will be in the range of $575,000 to $626,000 for 2018, approximately half of the City’s annual revenue loss due to Fiscal Disparities.
City Council and staff routinely hear from individual residents and groups regarding their hopes and priorities related to City spending, ranging from a desire for tax relief to additional services and amenities (e.g., parks/recreation, trails, City facilities). These are difficult decisions and there are constituencies who are passionate about each and every issue. Such community attitudes and desires help shape Council priorities and staff efforts. The balancing of these often-competing priorities will be in large part what shapes the future of the City of Rogers as desirable community in which to live, with a strong identity and strong property values.
So what does this additional future funding mean to the average homeowner in Rogers? In short, your City Council is currently reviewing various aspects of implementing these new “relief” dollars, including:
- The potential of lowering future City property taxes versus decreasing debt (current or future) and/or adding City facilities, amenities, services; or a combination of those items
- When to start programming for the relief dollars given that funds will not be received until December 2018, and December of subsequent budget years
- City property taxes and potential tax relief involves many factors: tax rate, current market value of your home, and any changes in your market value over the prior year. These factors influence the amount of relief, if any, that any individual property could receive.
The City Council will continue to discuss the best long-term use of this new funding as budget discussions progress.