latte County’s budget challenges continue as new information was received showing a sharp decline in sales tax revenue.
The sales tax revenue for the county dropped by 11.9 percent in December compared to last year.
According to Dana Babcock, director of administration, the sales tax numbers for December are actually receipts reflecting November sales.
The budget process is moving forward. According to Betty Knight, presiding commissioner, the commission has finished meeting with officeholders concerning the budget and are waiting to see the budget numbers.
“We may have more meetings if we make changes,” said Knight. “We have taken the salary increase out, which takes the benefit lines down some.”
Knight said the changes have reduced the budget quite a bit. The 2009 budget must be approved by the commission by the end of January 2009. Kathy Dusenbery, first district commissioner-elect, will take office at the beginning of January.
“Everyone has an understanding of what’s going on,” said Dusenbery. “We need to be conservative with the tax dollars at this time.”
Dusenbery said she hopes the sales tax numbers will rebound after the end of year shopping. “When I’m shopping in Zona Rosa, it looks like people are preparing for the holidays,” said Dusenbery. “Hopefully we’ll have a rebound.”
The sales tax revenue in December is $96,562 less than in 2007, which had a total of $812,112. While the revenue for December was a decrease, the revenue for the entire year was up 1.6 percent over 2007.
However, on a broader scale, since 2004 there has been an increase over the previous year of at least 6 percent per year. The lowest was from 2006 to 2007 with an increase of 6.89 percent in sales tax revenue. The highest was from 2005 to 2006 with an increase of 8.71 percent.
The county sales tax revenue in 2008 is $7.4 million. In 2004 the revenue was $5.8 million.