Nash County Manager Zee Lamb on Monday presented county commissioners with a rosy economic forecast in the form of higher-than-expected county revenues during a roughly eight-hour Nash County Board of Commissioners meeting.
“We mentioned on Thursday night that the county’s revenues were coming in good,” Lamb said. “That is proving to be true.”
After seeing the data from nine months of the current fiscal year, from July 2020 to March 2021, the county is collecting significantly more money than expected for this point in the fiscal year, Lamb said.
One example is sales tax revenues. The projected sales tax revenue for the current fiscal year is roughly $13.5 million through March, he told Nash County commissioners.
“We are about 10 percent ahead of the budget projections for sales tax revenue,” Lamb said. “We budgeted nearly $16 million for this entire fiscal year and we are currently more than $1.5 million ahead of the same point last year.”
At the end of the current fiscal year in June, Lamb said he expects that sales tax revenues will be between $1.5 million and $2 million more than originally expected.
Lamb said he is especially pleased with motor vehicle tax revenues.
“I think we had our biggest month ever for motor vehicles,” Lamb told commissioners.
March motor vehicle tax revenues, some of which were collected in April, amounted to $841,688, Lamb said. So far, the county has collected roughly $5,543,000 in motor vehicle revenue during this fiscal year. The budget for the entire current year is roughly $6,062,000.
“That is roughly 91 percent of the budgeted revenues that we have collected so far. We are now projected to bring in more than $7 million in these revenues in the current year,” Lamb said in a later interview. “For motor vehicles, we are doing very well.”
As far as ad valorem taxes, including property taxes, the county is already almost $2 million above budget projections, Lamb said.
“We budgeted about $97.5 million for ad valorem tax revenues. We usually expect to have about $75 million collected at this point. At the end of the year, I think our ad valorem taxes, including motor vehicles, are going to be about $3 million or $3.5 million over the budget projections,” Lamb said. “It is very much a true statement that our revenues are coming in very strong this year.”
Lamb said in a later interview that collections on delinquent prior year taxes also were higher than projected. So far, more than $587,559 of these taxes have been collected, significantly more than the $425,000 projected in this year’s budget.
Lamb credited the increase to several factors, including improved tax collections and brighter economic conditions than expected.
“Our overall tax collection rate is 99 percent,” Lamb said. “Our collection methods are working well, and we have a good citizenry which sees the importance of paying taxes.”
Online sales this year also have helped during the pandemic as most of these sales tax revenues eventually trickle down to the local economy.
“People were home more during the pandemic, and they were bored. Online sales tax revenues more than made up for anything we lost through traditional local sales tax,” Lamb said.
Overall, Lamb said he is grateful the economic picture turned out better than planned.
“Intuitively, as we were planning for this year, we thought we would take a hit on sales tax and other revenues, but that didn’t happen,” he said.
County board Chairman Robbie Davis also presented a brief new home construction report at Monday’s meeting.
“There were 28 in the month of April. That was down just a little bit. But there were a total of 88 general construction permits, which was up somewhat. That does not include any trade permits, so we are still going very strong,” Davis said.
Nash County commissioners will hold a second board meeting this month at 1:30 p.m. on May 24. County commissioners will be reviewing the recommended budget for the coming fiscal year.