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Hall County yet to feel state revenue windfall

Area governments await impact of rise in tax coffers

POSTED: July 17, 2014 12:30 a.m.

State revenues are increasing this year over last, but economic hiccups remain and local governments have yet to see the payoff.

In April, tax revenues flowing into the coffers of state government decreased 2.9 percent from the same month in 2013.

In May, though revenues had increased from the same month in 2013, tax collections were lower than in April.

But revenues bounced back in June. Tax collections this year totaled nearly $17.9 billion as of the end of June, an increase of about $879.25 million, or 5.2 percent, over the first six months of 2013.

“We do monitor state revenues,” Hall County Administrator Randy Knighton said. “Generally, this would be reflected at the local level in LOST (local option sales tax) and SPLOST (special purpose local option sales tax) receipts.

“Increased revenue at the state level is usually a positive indicator and often reflected at the local level.”

But revenues from SPLOST, for example, have fluctuated along with state revenues.

Collections from the 1 percent sales tax for March totaled $2.35 million, dropped to $2.28 million in April and bumped up to $2.391 million in May.

Both SPLOST and LOST revenue streams in Hall County have remained stable, however, on par with collections made in 2013.

But sales taxes are divvied up only after the fact, meaning there’s a delay between the time state revenues are announced each month and when local governments actually receive their share.

This can make it difficult to predict just how much of an effect state collections have at the local level.

“Yes, we do monitor the sales tax numbers every month to ensure projections are tracking based on our budgeted revenue,” said Gainesville City Manager Kip Padgett. “They help to give us a little insight into the economy, but the reports sometimes run behind collections by a couple of months.”

Changes in state revenues month over month reflect taxes collected on individual and corporate income, as well as sales and use taxes.

State legislation, such as the changes to how motor vehicle fees are calculated, can affect collections.

So, too, can spending habits, as tax collections often foretell whether the economy is improving.

But for smaller governments, state revenues hold less financial weight.

“... The trend has been in the right direction, but not enough to impact our revenues significantly since local option sales taxes are only 17 percent of our operating revenue,” said Oakwood City Manager Stan Brown.



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