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County revenue on slide
Sales tax money hard to forecast
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Forsyth County News
Forsyth County commissioners on Tuesday received a dim financial update, one that showed both revenues and tax dollars on the decline.

Bill Thomas, the county’s chief financial officer, told commissioners that local option sales tax, or LOST, revenue for April came in about 40 percent less than a year ago.

The tax receipts, which came from February 2009 sales in the county, totaled $1.27 million, or $800,000 less than the April 2008 payment of $2.16 million.

Thomas had just received the numbers Tuesday and could not explain the drop. He did say, however, that this month’s LOST figure is “the lowest monthly sales tax receipt we’ve seen ... since September of 2003.”

“Sales taxes have not created a discernible pattern,” Thomas said. “It’s getting really hard to forecast.”

Thomas added that he had some concerns the county may not meet its projected annual LOST collection goal of $23 million.

He also talked to commissioners Tuesday about the state of the county’s general fund.

While revenues on property taxes, business and occupation taxes and business licenses showed strong results so far this year, Thomas said some revenues were coming in slower than expected.

Motor vehicle taxes, real estate transfer taxes, planning permits, recording of legal documents and investment income have not met projections, Thomas said.

Commissioner Jim Boff asked Thomas if the board should begin considering a reduction in expenses.

Thomas said it was up to the board, but “we need to be very vigilant about this.”

Chairman Charles Laughinghouse said he had spoke with County Manager Doug Derrer and Thomas regarding the possibility of a plan to combat financial shortfalls.

“Let’s have a plan ready to go and hope we never have to implement it,” Laughinghouse said. “Let’s be ready to do it if necessary.”

The commission made budget cuts and eliminated 26 county positions last year prior to approving the 2009 budget of $84.1 million.

Also at Tuesday’s work session, the commissioners accepted a $414,172 bid from G.E.M. Contractors to build off-site sewer where Union Hill/McGinnis Ferry meets the extension of Ronald Reagan Boulevard. Vote was 4-1 with Commissioner Patrick Bell opposed.

E-mail Frank Reddy at