Timber mats

Mountain Valley Pipeline site on a property in Franklin County.

Franklin County’s sales tax collections were up by 20% in the fiscal year that ended in June, generating nearly $1 million additional revenue.

Finance Director Brian Carter said actual collections exceeded budget by approximately $925,000. He said the spike could most likely be attributed to Mountain Valley Pipeline activity in the locality.

The county did not experience any major economic activity, like the opening of a major business, during the last fiscal year, Carter said.

Other local taxes did not experience similar growth. Meals tax collections increased some, while transient occupancy tax collections were actually down, he said.

But it appears the 2018-19 year was an outlier. Sales tax collections in July and August of this year were down about 3.5% compared to 2018, Carter said.

“I think we’re starting to see a little bit more normalization of the sales tax,” Carter said.

When the county adopted its 2019-20 budget, it did not anticipate sales tax collections to keep pace with the prior year. Carter said the budget calls for a “more moderate” 9% increase.

In a good economy, Carter said, a 5% to 7% increase in sales tax collections would be considered “healthy growth” for the county. So the 20% increase came as a “nice surprise.”

Thanks in large part to sales tax collections, Carter estimates Franklin County will finish the year with a roughly $2 million surplus. That figure is still preliminary.

The last few years, Franklin County has averaged a surplus of about $1 million, Carter said.

Some of the additional money has already been appropriated by the board of supervisors for capital projects. The board was presented with a list of rollover requests on Tuesday. Rollover funds are typically allocated to one-time expenditures.

Some of the items on the list, which the board approved Tuesday, included:

  • $181,000 for the E-911 Center capital reserve account.
  • $210,000 for parks and recreation equipment replacement and athletic field light repair.
  • $200,000 for the collection sites capital account.
  • $175,000 for the maintenance account for county facilities.

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