Sharp decline seen in first month of ‘09

The trickle of sales tax pennies to Madison County declined in 2008, compared to the previous year. And the downward trend continued in the first month of 2009. According to figures provided by the county commissioners’ office, January sales tax revenues for the county government totaled $139,116 last month, down 23.3 percent from $181,456 in January 2008.

Overall, sales tax collections dropped four percent in 2008, down $88,752, from $2,129,010 in 2007 to $2,040,258 last year.

While the nationwide decline in consumer spending certainly hurt local SPLOST revenues, the sharp spike in gas prices last summer actually helped keep sales tax revenues from taking an even deeper flesh wound.

As people forked over around $4 per gallon of gas bought in the county, Madison County saw some of its highest monthly SPLOST totals in recent years. For instance, the county collected $225,363 in sales tax funds this past September when gas was around $4 a gallon.

Like other local governments across Georgia, Madison County relies heavily on sales tax funding to carry out needed improvement projects.

Madison County voters said “yes” last year to a renewal of the one-cent SPLOST. And county leaders projected that the one-cent tax would raise roughly $12.6 million for county and municipal improvements over the next six years.

Typically, the Madison County government has seen a yearly increase in SPLOST revenues. However, the economic downturn is forcing leaders to questions those projections.

For instance, Madison County Commission Chairman Anthony Dove has suggested that the county government take a wait-and-see attitude on sales tax projects, such as the expansion of the county jail, noting that the county needs to get a better grip on how much SPLOST money is actually going to be available for those endeavors.

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