Cities, county end year with less

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 30, 2009

Across Pike County, local governments fell short in sales tax collections at the close of the budget year.

But even with losses, Pike County, Troy and Brundidge haven’t been struck too hard — at least not yet.

Sales tax was down close to 5 percent for both the cities of Troy and Brundidge and a little more than 6 percent for Pike County, comparing the close of this budget year to last.

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For Troy, that’s a difference of a little more than $300,000 in 2009 and 2008’s figures.

Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford said largely those hits all came at once.

“The majority of that loss came within the last three to five months of the year,” Lunsford said. “That alarmed us a little bit that it could be trending down. That’s why I’ve been watching almost on a daily basis.”

In September, the city of Troy saw about a $45,000 difference in revenues compared to last year.

He’s not getting his hopes up just yet, but Lunsford said the start of this year appears to be an improvement.

“We’re about $20,000 short over last month for October, but we have some more coming in,” Lunsford said. “So, that appears to be improving somewhat. Of course, it’s not a trend until we get a few months under our belt.”

Brundidge Mayor Jimmy Ramage shares that same hope.

The city of Brundidge was down about $24,000 in sales tax compared to the previous year.

“Considering the year and what’s happened in the economy, 5 percent is not that bad,” Ramage said. “It could have been worse.”

Brundidge, which doesn’t have a large retail base, doesn’t typically have particularly high sales tax revenues even in good economic times.

“Ours never soars,” Ramage said.

That, Ramage said, is probably what keeps the city surviving even in downtimes.

Pike County’s sales tax numbers were down more than the cities,’ losing about $430,000 in the last year.

“We really didn’t know when we budgeted last year exactly what to expect,” said County Administrator Harry Sanders.

But, despite all sales taxes being down, all three local governments still managed to end the year in the black.

What they had to do, however, was budget lower than they have in the past for this year’s projections.

“We actually budgeted slightly less than what we received this year in anticipation of the economy still not making it back to full strength,” Sanders said.

Sanders said, if all goes as planned, it will only mean the commission doesn’t end the year with as much in reserves.

“We just hope it means our excess revenues are not going to be as much as what we’d like to have,” Sanders said.

Ramage said for Brundidge, the city actually budgeted slightly more than it earned in revenues in the last year.

“We’re anticipating it may not go back to the 2008 number,” Ramage said.

“That small of amount (means we didn’t have to make any cuts). If it continues for a long period of time we will.”

The city of Troy budgeted just slightly more, as well.