A look at sales tax figures a year after the economic collapse
The stock market and the economy took a screaming nosedive in Sept. 2008.
That same month, Madison County began collecting pennies for a six-year sales tax, with funds tagged for various city and county improvement projects.
So, a year later, how are those collections? And is Madison County in position to tackle its sales tax projects, such as expanding the county jail to add capacity for female inmates?
Well, collections are indeed down, but perhaps not as bad as some might have thought. According to the county finance office, the county government took in nearly $2.2 million in special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) funds over the past 13 months. At that pace, the county will collect $12.14 million over six years. The county initially projected $12.6 million for the six-year period, but then the economy went south.
“I think it (the collections) is about as good as we could have expected now,” said BOC chairman Anthony Dove. “But we want to let that build up before we act. We don’t want to incur any major debt right now.”
Collections have varied in 2009, with a low in April of $122,706 and a high of $206,488 last month. At this point in 2007, collections were $1.55 million, compared to $1.54 million in 2008 and $1.46 million through the first nine months of this year.
To date, the county has spent $246,623 in 2008 SPLOST money. Those funds have gone to an enhanced 911 system, soccer fields, ambulance equipment and road paving.
Dove said his primary concern about SPLOST is a shortage of funding for roads. In 2003, county voters renewed SPLOST, with over $8 million going for road projects over five years — all 2003 SPLOST funds have been spent. However, county commissioners tried to spread the SPLOST funding around to a number of departments, as well as cities, when they approved sales tax allocations in late 2007. There were plans to double the capacity of the county jail, expand the library, upgrade the 911 system, renovate the old courthouse, as well as pay for EMS and transfer station improvements. Meanwhile, sales tax funding for roads was cut in half, with $3.95 million allocated for roads over six years.
As local road funding was cut back, so was the money from the state for road improvements as Georgia fell on hard economic times. The state government sent word to counties and municipalities that they would get less assistance from Atlanta.
While the funding cutbacks from the state are a concern, Dove noted that the Department of Transportation has worked with the county recently on a couple of local road issues. He pointed out that the county has gotten technical help for turn lanes at the intersections of Fortson Store Road, Hwy. 29 and Glenn Carrie Road. He also noted that the state plans to install a new sensor at the traffic light at Hwys. 29 and 98 to help the traffic flow more smoothly.
A SPLOST breakdown
The county government is on pace to collect $12.14 million in SPLOST funds over six years, which is over $400,000 less than initially projected. Here is the breakdown on how $12.6 million in projected sales tax money was to be divided over six years:
•Roads: $3.95 million
•Jail expansion: $3.3 million
•IDA (sewage/water sources): $1.19 million
•Recreation department projects: $1 million
•Library expansion: $750,000
•911 upgrades: $424,000
•EMS upgrades: $270,000
•Transfer station upgrades: $124,000
Here is the current SPLOST receipt distribution:
Transfer station: $21,699
Old courthouse: $15,650