County Sees Big Hike In Sales Tax Revenue
Last updated 9/20/2021 at 12:49pm
Thanks to a “massive increase” in sales tax revenue, County Finance Director Jonathan Griffin reported a more than $4 million hike in revenue to the county for the 2021 fiscal year over the previous year.
During their regular meeting last week, Griffin told the Board of Commissioners that though the 2021 fiscal year financial report remains unaudited, the county would likely have more than $64.2 in revenues for this year.
Griffin said the shift to e-commerce seems to be driving the sales tax increases.
According to the U.S. Census, before the pandemic about one in 10 retail transactions occurred online. That number has since shifted closer to one in five and makes up almost 17% of sales, Griffin said.
Griffin said because sales taxes are destination based in North Carolina, if someone orders products from Target online and has them shipped to their Transylvania County home, the county receives those sales taxes revenues.
If that person drives to the Target store on Airport Road and makes the same purchase, the sales taxes would go to Buncombe County, since that’s where the purchase was made.
Griffin said the county also saw a more than doubling of occupancy tax revenues – from around $800,000 in 2020 to $1.8 in 2021. Excise taxes from the Register of Deeds are up, as well, due to the hot real estate market in the county.
The county saw increases in revenue in every category but two – detention center revenues in the Sheriff’s Office and Public Transportation due to the state suspending funding for the rural operating grant.
According to Griffin, the county’s general fund balance will likely end the year around $35.7 million.
In other action:
•Commissioners voted to contract all guardianship clients to Hope for the Future, a guardianship services company out of Asheville.
The county’s Department of Social Services (DSS) currently has a contract with Hope for the Future to provide case management to clients under guardianship for anyone under 16.
This latest contract will extend case management to all of DSS’s guardianship clients, said DSS Director Amanda Vanderoef.
Individuals may be placed under guardianship for a variety of reasons, such as a minor whose biological parents are no longer able to care for them; for elderly, developmentally disabled people; people suffering from substance use disorder; or those struggling with a mental health crisis.
They are often court appointed.
County Manager Jaime Laughter said the Clerk of Court’s Office has named DSS as the guardian for all guardianship cases in the county, which is not typical in other counties, and DSS has struggled to keep up with the caseload due to a staff vacancy in August.
With this contract, the county will also cut costs by eliminating the need for a full-time employee to manage the caseload.
The current yearly budget for guardianship services, including the contract with Hope for the Future, a full-time salary and supply costs, is $144,967.
Contracting all cases to Hope for the Future reduces the proposed budget to $140,400.
“I think it’s a great example, though, of taking opportunities to evaluate how we’re doing things and looking for ways to either do them better and or save tax payer dollars,” said Laughter after the meeting. “I applaud our DSS director for talking about those opportunities and really showing that quality stewardship of her role.”
At the meeting, Commissioner David Guice asked Vanderoef if the county would still be responsible for ensuring the cases were being managed to a satisfactory standard. Vanderoef said DSS would remain responsible for monitoring the contract and making sure Hope for the Future staff were doing a good job.
•Commissioners proclaimed the week of Sept. 17-23 as Constitution Week.
•Commissioners appointed Layton Parker as the chair for the Transylvania County Tourism and Development Authority for a period of two years.
•Commissioners discussed new OSHA requirements for workers in health care settings. Commissioners did not vote on any actions regarding the new OSHA regulations and are waiting for updated guidance.
•Commissioners voted to authorize the county manager and finance director to pursue an alternative method, for handling the county’s liability for required payments to retired law enforcement officers called the Special Separation Allowance.
•Commissioners approved the county manager and the finance director to deposit funds into an N.C. Department of State Treasurer investment program to seek greater long-term investment returns.
•Commissioners approved the sale of a foreclosed property in Connestee Falls.