By Gary Nelson
For the second month in a row, Cumberland County Finance Director Nathan Brock reported local option sales tax numbers have come in over budgeted amounts.
"We have good news for the second month now. We're still down for the year, but maybe it will continue," Brock said.
During his January budget performance presentation, Brock said collections for December 2013 were $660,149, which was $5,206 above the budgeted amount of $654,943.
Although local option sales tax collections are up for the past two months, the numbers are below budgeted amounts by $7,701 for the year.
Seven months of collections remain for the fiscal year.
Local option sales tax collections go toward funding the General Purpose School Fund budget.
Brock reported property tax collections showed that 49.5 percent had been collected.
Brock explained that hotel/motel tax collections were down.
"We are trailing on hotel/motel tax collections and that is a bit of concern," Brock said.
Brock reported $352,474 was collected so far, which is 47.8 percent of the budgeted amount of $738,000. Last year's collections at this point were $367,040.
John Kinnunen, 9th District commissioner, asked, "How are these numbers given, are they audited?"
"It's really more of an honor system. The county could retain auditors to go in and assure compliance was being met," Brock responded.
Brock added that the rate was increased but looking at the total collections compared to last year the amount is lower.
"Do we ever see a break down of each (hotel/motel)?" Mike Harvel 7th District commissioner asked.
"No, it's proprietary. Some don't want to let that information out. It's reported to the (county) trustee's office. In my office we have the ability to see that if we desire," Brock said.
"I mean have you ever looked just to see who's collecting what?" Harvel asked.
"No, we can check into that," Brock said.
Kinnunen asked, "Does this include timeshares as well?"
Brock said yes the collections also extend all the way down to campsite rentals.
Brock reported ambulance service collections were still down at a rate of $602,690 of a budgeted amount of $2,671,000, which is only 22 percent. November receipts were $41,835.
Brock said that Cumberland County Fire Chief and EMS Director Jeff Dodson had turned in $330,000 that would be included in the January report. He also said the EMS department is now on the third party billing system and he would begin reporting a collection line from that new system, as well.
Brock reported prisoner boarding collections were at $532,356 of a budgeted amount of $1,046,856, which is 50.9 percent.
"We are in good shape here and that reflects five months of billing time with collections through November," Brock said.
Jennifer Turner of the finance department reported that fuel usage continued to be on track and there were no departments in the county that were out of line.
Budget committee member Jeff Brown, 8th District commissioner, did not attend the meeting.