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Totals prop up sales tax shortfall
State payments may help eclipse early estimates
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Forsyth County News

Payments continue to roll in from the state following the June 30 end of the the fifth round of the county’s penny sales tax, and Chief Financial Officer Bill Thomas says things are looking up.

Thomas said there’s about a two month delay in receiving sales tax payments from the state, so the county is currently seeing “an increase in sales tax collections over and above what we had conservatively estimated.”

The county is currently looking at a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or SPLOST V, shortfall of $46,529, a number Thomas said is a vast improvement from June’s estimated $2.09 million deficit.

At Tuesday’s commission work session, Thomas attributed the deficit reduction to a changing of the scope of some SPLOST V projects as well as some project funding that will continue into SPLOST VI.

He said some projects also came in “at less than the forecasted budget.”

He said $46,000 will likely be made up in interest from a county fund comprised of saved sales tax dollars.

“Quite frankly,” he said. “We will earn that much in interest. We have money that hasn’t been spent and we know it’s going to get spent. It’s in the area of $4.5 million. We’ll earn enough interest on that money to be able to handle it.”

Commissioner David Richard said he was happy with the reduction of the deficit.

“This deficit is not very large,” he said. “We’re talking about more than $160 million from SPLOST V. To be only about $46,000 short, that’s pretty darn good.”

Commissioner Linda Ledbetter agreed.

 “We were expecting it to be a lot worse than this,” she said. “It’s probably because of the increase of commercial development in south Forsyth, like the Avenue Forsyth and the new Wal-Mart.”

“If we hadn’t had the downturn in the economy,” she added, “we might have even exceeded our expectations on SPLOST V money.”

Voters approved SPLOST V, in 2003. The money was to be used on various projects throughout the county, including infrastructure improvements, public buildings and cultural facilities.

Projects identified under the current penny tax collection that didn’t receive the allotted funding by law must be financed through future sales tax collections like SPLOST VI.

In January, Thomas told commissioners that the county could come up as much as $17 million short of projected revenue from the sales tax. In June, the number had been reduced to $2.09 million.