Taxation and Finance
Counties have a variety of revenue sources, but they are reliant on local property and sales tax as their primary sources of revenue. These revenues are used to pay for state mandated and local discretionary programs and services. Under state law counties are required to provide direct services to eligible individuals and families for social services, health care, public safety, and other state programs. Counties fully fund many of these costs up front and then seek reimbursement from the state for their share of the costs. Some of these reimbursements are delayed by more than one year under state law, while others occur on a regular basis as reimbursement claims are submitted. Delays in payments from the state, or cuts in the state share of program costs can have serious cash flow and budgetary impacts on county revenues and expenditures.
In addition, counties are subject to state law changes (and sometimes federal actions) related to both property and sales tax, and other local revenues. Major changes in property tax law include the state-imposed property tax cap in 2012 and forthcoming changes to the property tax delinquency foreclosure process. Most counties also must seek state approval to renew a portion of their local sales tax every two years. Finally, counties are impacted by numerous state- imposed property and sales tax exemptions that limit local taxation and impact county revenues.
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