Sales taxes down for all

Published 10:12 pm Saturday, June 6, 2009

Sales tax revenues throughout the county are down, indicating the poor economic condition of the nation has hit Pike County.

In Troy, sales tax revenues through the month of May are down 4 percent from last year.

Since the beginning of the fiscal year in October, Troy has collected about $3.7 million in sales tax revenues, compared to the roughly $3.8 million that had been generated at this time last year, a difference of about $150,000.

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According to Troy City Clerk Alton Starling, that translates to sales being down around $1.6 million.

The poor state of the economy is largely responsible for the decline in sales tax revenues.

“We’ve had some store closings,” Starling said. “Troy is also a pathway to the beach, so if people aren’t traveling, that could affect it.”

The Pike County Commission’s sales tax revenues are also down.

The Commission generated about $4.3 million in sales tax revenue from October through May, down 4.89 percent from last year’s roughly $4.5 million.

However, those numbers are actually more positive than the reality the commission faces.

“The Commission receives a 2 percent sales tax. Of that 2 percent, 1.75 percent goes to the county schools, so the Commission is actually down 11 percent from last year,” said Pike County Administrator Harry Sanders.

But, Sanders said the decline was expected.

“It’s been tracking that way since the beginning of the fiscal year,” he said. “I’m not sure if there’s a specific cause. Certainly, local businesses have been adversely affected by the economy. It’s been this way for a little while now and that trend has kind of maintained. But, we’re keeping our fingers crossed and hoping that nothing further will happen.”

Brundidge’s sales tax revenues have seen less of a decline than those of its neighboring governments.

While numbers through May were not available, the sales tax revenues generated through the end of March were down about $8,000.

The revenues last year were around $218,000 through March, while this year’s revenues were about $210,000, a difference of around 2 percent.

Brundidge City Manager Brit Thomas also blamed the poor economy for the decline.

“Certainly it’s the economy. We have one retail business that is closing, which is Bill’s Dollar Store, so that shows you retail sales are down,” Thomas said. “Also, you would have to think that gas sales at the convenience stores on 231 are also down.”

However, Thomas said the decline was expected in Brundidge, as well.

“Here in Brundidge, we’ve never really followed the national economic swings,” Thomas said. “We don’t see the big booms when it’s doing really well, but we don’t see huge dips either. So, that 2 percent decline is about right.”

Despite the declines in revenue, Troy, Pike County and Brundidge are all pretty much on track with their budgets.

Starling said the economic decline was anticipated and the city budgeted accordingly.

“Because we anticipated a poor economy, we did not project that sales tax would increase,” Starling said. “We decided to leave it level. We’re only 1.6 percent behind our budget, so we did a fairly good job of estimating the sales tax.”

Sanders said the Pike County Commission is in a similar situation.

“We budgeted conservatively,” Sanders said. “We’re actually tracking right along with our budget. We didn’t have the knowledge of the economy that we do now, but we tried to anticipate this.”

Brundidge also was conservative in its projections for sales tax revenue.

“We mostly kept the budget projection flat,” Thomas said. “We did increase it a little bit, but not as much as we did the previous year. But, we’re close. We’re pretty much on track.”

However, Thomas said he hopes to make up the difference as the year goes along.

I’m going to be optimistic and say that we will make it up,” Thomas said. “There are signs nationally that the economy is on the rise, so hopefully we’ll be able to make up that two percent somewhere.”