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County sales tax revenue drops suddenly

Joshua Sebold
Staff Writer
2/10/2010


    A report by County Administrative Officer Jack Ingstad dated Monday, Feb. 1, reported that the county’s midyear budget was relatively balanced with $11.3 million in revenues and $11.8 million in expenditures.
    Construction permits and tax collections were basically on target compared to projections for the year, meaning that they continued to go down on a year-to-year basis, although at a slower rate than in prior years.
    Sales tax revenue was also on target for the first part of the year, but Ingstad reported seeing something disturbing for the last three months, a jump from a 3 percent drop in that revenue to a 33 percent drop.
    Ingstad said the budget was still on track, but the sudden drop made him worry about the hit the businesses that generate that revenue must have taken recently.
    He also reported that the county general fund balance had dropped by $1.4 million since 2005.
    The CAO projected that number would drop by another $400,000 in the next fiscal year.
    The fund balance had been projected around $2.5 million at the beginning of the current fiscal year but actually came in at about $640,000 less than that.
    As far as issues on the horizon, Ingstad said the state was considering taking road and transit funds from the counties and cutting health and human services programs to address the budget deficit.
    He also said the county would have to decide whether to backfill the loss of Williamson Act funds from the state.
    The Williamson Act used to provide state compensation in lieu of property taxes to allow people keeping their land in agricultural or open space to pay less to the county as an incentive to keep those lands undeveloped.
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