Local sales tax revenue up

Published 7:14 pm Monday, September 8, 2008

Even in trying economic conditions, Pike County residents haven’t stopped shopping locally.

City and county governments have seen growth in sales tax revenues this year, despite a nationwide economic slowdown.

But as far as sales-tax redistribution, local schools have not.

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“With the downturn in the economy, we’re seeing other people around us experiencing a loss of sales tax,” Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford said. “But we had incurred a considerable amount of retail growth, and it’s helped us beat the economic downturn.”

The City of Troy, which receives 2-cent revenues from local sales tax, has seen a little more than $200,000 in sales tax growth in the last year.

From October 2007 to July 2008, Lunsford said the city has brought in $4.9 million in sales tax revenues, up from the previous year’s $4.68 million.

In Brundidge, the city’s 2-cent sales tax has generated an increase in revenues as well.

City Manager Britt Thomas said Brundidge has brought in a 6 percent increase in revenues, with more than $381,000 so far.

And in the county, which receives 25 percent of a one-cent sales tax, Pike County Administrator Harry Sanders said they, too have growth.

“The latest report through July this year, is we have about 3.92 percent above last year’s,” Sanders said.

Sanders said in the county, an automatic $150,000 comes off the top of the one-cent revenues to allot to different county agencies. After that, 25 percent is given to the commission and the other 75 percent is split between the city and county school systems based on enrollment.

Both local school systems report sales tax revenue is down.

Troy City Schools Superintendent Linda Felton-Smith said even with more time left in the budget year, sales tax appears to be down.

“Based on previous years, the projection does not look as if we will have as much in sales tax revenue in ’08 as we did in ’07,” Felton-Smith said.

Felton-Smith said based on last year’s figures, Troy City Schools projects to be short about $248,000 in sales tax revenues. Through July, city schools have received $2.3 million in revenues this year.

Pike County Schools Superintendent Mark Bazzell said with two-months before the next budget year, revenue is down by $200,000. He said he’s counting on growth in the county, though the school systems likely won’t see it this time around.

“It’s clear the sales tax revenue in Pike County will exceed what we had last year,” Bazzell said. “I anticipate when we get August and September receipts, if that holds consistent, we will have about a 7 percent decrease.”

This is the first full year school systems have had to share their sales tax with the county commission, but Bazzell said it has not hurt the county schools.

“We will actually be better off at this time than I anticipated us to be, feeling the impact of the redistribution,” Bazzell said.

For all local governments, sales tax revenues add income to their general funds.

In schools, the monies are used to fund local teacher units, purchase textbooks and assist with any other needs.

Both school systems now have 12 locally funded teacher units, superintendents said.

Even though cities and counties have seen a growth, they aren’t projecting for more growth in the upcoming year.

“I just don’t feel comfortable at this point projecting an increase,” Lunsford said. “Since we have an increase, I won’t decrease it but will project it based on our receipts for this 12 months.”

Sanders said the county’s proposed budget allots $800,000 in revenue, $50,000 more than last year’s projections.

“What we’re planning on is to be on the conservative side and be level on that revenue,” Sanders said.