Despite widespread concerns that sales tax revenues could drop dramatically because of the coronavirus pandemic, monthly reports continue to show higher revenues in Caldwell County compared to last year.
In the spring, while municipal and county governments were crafting budgets for the fiscal year that began July 1, government finance officials opted for conservative budgets that predicted sales tax revenues would drop as much as 25%.
Instead, revenues rose: From March to May 2020, Caldwell County’s sales tax revenues surpassed 2019’s totals by more than $330,000.
On Nov. 10, Caldwell County received $1.7 million in sales tax revenues from the state, up more than $6,000 from what it received in November 2019, according to statistics from the North Carolina Department of Revenue. That makes six consecutive months that the county’s sales tax revenues have exceeded last year’s.
Caldwell County Finance Manager Tony Helton expected the distribution numbers from September and November to give the clearest idea of how the local economy is being affected by the pandemic, and he said that it is encouraging to see the trend of growth continuing.
“No one knows what the future holds but I am cautiously optimistic that we will avoid any significant negative impact to our sales tax going forwards,” he said.
Statewide, sales tax revenues spiked this month to just under $329 million, $5 million more than in 2019.
According to a November press release from the Office of the State Controller, tax revenues from July 1 through Oct. 30 have increased by $1.5 billion, or 19.8%, from the same period in 2019.
The sales tax revenues that the county receives from the state are distributed to each municipality according to their population. In Hudson, Town Manager Rebecca Bentley had budgeted conservatively going into this fiscal year.
“The first-quarter sales tax revenues are 7% greater than sales tax revenues for the same period of 2019,” she said. “Also, sales tax is coming in 33% better than budgeted, because we had budgeted some reduction in sales tax due to the pandemic.”
Granite Falls, Sawmills, Gamewell and Cajah’s Mountain all similarly adopted budgets projecting lower revenues.
Sawmills Town Manager Chase Winebarger said he is happy for the good financial news but the town council will continue to watch the economy closely.
“Sawmills falls in line with everyone else,” he said. “Our numbers are slightly better but with the uncertainty of this virus and the future in general, we too, stay cautiously optimistic.”