by Ivan Foley
Platte County officials projected and budgeted for no change in general sales tax collections for 2009. Through May collections, that projection seems to be right on target.
With the economy having slowed from previous years, Platte County’s general sales tax revenue is down by $6,000 from where it was at this time last year.
“I’m still very comfortable with the flat projection,” Siobhann Williams, county auditor, told The Landmark in an interview this week.
Williams said last year at this time the county had taken in $2,818,056 in general sales tax dollars. This year through the month of May collections, the county is at $2,812,943. Eerily similar.
Williams explained the collections thus far for the year would be for purchases made by consumers for the months of November through March, based on the delay from the time of sale to the time vendors send in tax collections to the state and then the state distributes that money back to the county.
While the general sales tax revenue is flat, revenues from the half cent park tax and the 3/8 cent tax for roads are both up considerably. Both are 4.5% ahead of collections at this time last year, Williams said, which seems hard to explain with the general tax being flat.
Williams said there are “certain kinds of things that the general sales tax is applied to but special sales taxes are not. . .it has something to do with the airport.”
Questioned further about how it would be mathematically possible for the general tax revenue then to be lower than the special taxes for parks and roads, Williams explained:
“Sometimes we get adjustments (from the state). I think there is some kind of adjustment made that affects the general tax but not the special taxes. Usually the general sales tax is higher, but all the sudden this year it flipped. I will have to dig into that to see what is going on," she said Tuesday, adding it might require a look at detailed reports per specific vendors.
In regard to general sales tax revenue remaining virtually the same as last year, Williams remarked:
“We are very lucky to be in the position that we’re in. I’m hearing most (counties) around the state are not so lucky,” she said, with most areas seeing declines in sales tax revenue.
“The thing for Platte County is that we had all that new retail space open (Tiffany Springs Market Cetern, for instance) and then the economy tanked. I don’t think the county will see any new retail for awhile,” she predicted.
“But I do expect to see things pick up starting next year,” she remarked. “I think we’ll still see growth, just not at the same rate that we have in the past.”
She then predicted that beginning next year the county will begin to see about a 3-5% growth in general sales tax per year, which would be an upgrade from the present time but less than when the local economy was booming.
Williams said she is “amazed” the county park tax revenue has grown at a rate of 4.5% thus far this year.
She said the county has collected $2,770,620 thus far in ‘09 in park tax revenue, well ahead of last year’s pace through May. For the entire year of 2008, the county took in $6,992,273 in park tax revenue, she said.