Commissioners receive latest sales tax revenue report from the state Thursday
Future financial situation remains unclear amid the current health crisis
[Tiffin, OH July 16, 2020] – The Seneca County Board of Commissioners received and reviewed the most recent sales tax revenue report during a meeting Thursday morning.
The July report, which reflects sales taxes assessed in parts of April and May, states that the county had received $686,622.16. This figure was down 9 percent from the $754,476.06 that was collected during the same time period in 2019.
This news followed last month’s report, which was down nearly $130,000, or 16 percent compared to last year’s data.
The commissioners expected a downturn in General Fund revenue as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and so they consequently formalized nearly $2 million in budget reductions in April. This decision followed a certification from the Seneca County Budget Commission projecting a $2 million loss in revenue through the end of the year.
At the beginning of the year, the sales tax was projected to make up about $8.1 million, or 46.3 percent of total General Fund revenue in 2020. It is not yet clear how much the sales tax and other income streams will be affected by the pandemic.
The five major revenue streams as initially projected for 2020 include:
– Property tax amounts to about 13.1 percent of annual revenues (~$2.3 million)
– Casino tax revenue amounts to about 3.8 percent of annual revenues (~$660,000)
– Jail housing amounts to about 8 percent (~$1.4 million)
– Local Government Funds from the state amount to about 4.5 percent of annual revenues (~$790,000)
These top five revenue streams equal about 75.7 percent of the initially budgeted revenue figure for 2020.
Before the global health crisis began to affect the local economy, sales tax receipts were on pace for a record-breaking year. At the end of April, sales tax receipts were up 6.5 percent compared to 2019, which was among one of the best years since 2008.
Commissioner Shayne Thomas said the positive start to the year has helped the county weather the economic storm brought on by the pandemic. With Thursday’s report, those gains have nearly been wiped away. Through July, the county’s year-to-date sales tax collection was just 0.3 percent ahead of 2019’s pace.
County Administrator Stacy Wilson said one theory being discussed around the state, is that sales tax figures could have been even more adversely affected up to this point if it wasn’t for federal stimulus money. Millions of dollars were loaned to local businesses, thousands of residents received $1,200 stimulus checks, and extra funding was made available to the unemployed. These measures could have weathered the storm further. It is unclear how the economy will be affected once the effects of these measures expire.
The commissioners agreed that there is still much uncertainty in what revenue could look like for the rest of the year, as COVID-19 case numbers surge around the state. The board plans to continue closely monitoring revenue figures.
For more information on county finances, view this document.
In other business, the commissioners met with other county elected officials and department heads to create a system for using federal CARES Act money.
Last week, the board approved a $923,175 budget that will allow the county to disburse funds for COVID-19-related expenses. The funding, which was distributed after the approval of the federal CARES Act and other state legislation, provides about $2 million for political subdivisions across Seneca County. The county itself is to receive about $923,175, which can be used for any previously unbudgeted county expenses brought about by the current health crisis. This funding can hopefully further mitigate the county’s anticipated revenue losses throughout 2020.
A committee is to be formed that is to make recommendations to the commissioners on what expenses qualify to be reimbursed by this pool of funds.
Wilson said nearly $680,000 in expenses up to this point could be eligible to be reimbursed through the fund.
In other action, Commissioner Anthony Paradiso thanked and congratulated Mary Jane Keller on her retirement. Keller has spent 25 years working in the Auditor’s Office.
“She has announced her retirement, today is her last day,” Paradiso said. “She cares a lot about the county. We are going to miss her.”
During new business, the board approved all resolutions from the pre-meeting release and:
* A $1.18 supplemental appropriation to the Dog and Kennel Fund.
* A $6,000 supplemental appropriation to the Children Services Fund.
* A $150,000 supplemental appropriation to the Public Assitance Fund.