Sales taxes lowest yet

Published 8:15 pm Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Local officials had to look twice when they saw last month’s sales tax collections.

That’s because they were the lowest Troy, Brundidge and Pike County had ever seen.

Troy City Clerk Alton Starling said the city of Troy has seen a 19 percent drop in sales tax collected this June compared to last June. That makes the biggest difference in a one-month downturn the city has seen yet.

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“That’s a little scary,” said Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford. “Unless there’s some unusual occurrence, this is the largest one-month drop. We’ve been steadily growing for years.”

The story was similar for Brundidge, who has seen a 17.5 percent drop from June last year.

Comparing the two months, Brundidge has seen an $8,000 difference in the two. City Clerk Linda Faust said that may not be reason for concern, since last June the city had a one-time payment that was larger than it usually would have collected.

“We had a one-time vendor that was more than $5,000, so that kind of skews that number a little bit because it was one time,” Faust said.

Pike County’s drop was a little less significant, but still took a 15.8 percent fall since last June, falling from around $620,000 to $522,000 this year.

“We’re concerned. We’re in hopes things will begin to recover,” said County Administrator Harry Sanders.

Neither Lunsford, Faust nor Sanders had any concrete answers for what has caused such a big drop.

“I really don’t have any analysis other than generally another step in the economy,” Sanders said.

And it’s a step each local government is hoping will improve before it’s time to budget again.

“We’re actually budgeting lower revenue in the upcoming year than we’ve had in this year,” Sanders said.

“We hope that’s enough and hope certainly it doesn’t get any worse.”

The county commission has already started its budgeting process, and Sanders said lower numbers will make them project more conservative in the coming year.

“We’re hoping for the best and trying to plan for harder times,” Sanders said.

Troy Council President Johnny Witherington said this, too, is something the city will have to watch as it looks ahead.

“We’ve got to make sure that we keep our belts tightened, and by statute we have to operate in a balanced budget and want to stay within it.”