POMEROY — Nearly a year after a half-percent sales and use tax increase went into effect, Meigs County is beginning to see its benefits.
In June 2012, the Meigs County Commissioners approved a one-half percent sales and use tax increase.
At the time, then-commissioner president Tom Anderson emphasized that a financial emergency existed, and the increase in sales and use tax was absolutely necessary. Current Meigs County Commissioner President Tim Ihle echoed that statement Friday, saying the county was doing what it could, but the bills were not being paid on time and capital improvements were being delayed.
Now, as the county has received nearly a year of increased sales tax, it appears as though much needed items in the county are being taken care of thanks to the support of people shopping locally.
Ihle noted that revenue received on a monthly basis this year has exceeded even the expectations of the commissioners based on the same time last year. He stated that when they looked at the numbers beforehand, it was estimated that the county would see a 50-percent increase, but it has actually been higher than expected.
Previously, the county received one percent of all sales tax collected in Meigs County. The increase brought it to 1.5 percent, meaning that for every dollar of sales tax collected, 1.5 cents goes to Meigs County.
In the first six months of 2013, Meigs County has received $1,147,522.53 in sales tax revenue. For the same period in 2012, the county received $725,225.15.
With the increase in methamphetamine labs and resulting arrests by the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office, a portion of the increased funds is being spent on housing of prisoners and work related to the meth labs, said Ihle.
“Before, there was no room in the budget for things that would come up such as the increased housing of prisoners, there just simply was not money to pay for it,” said Ihle, noting that the housing budget for prisoners this year may go as high as $250,000 over the appropriated amount of $150,000.
While the Sheriff’s Office budget is receiving some of the funds, the county is also looking toward capital improvements.
“We will be working on the parking lot catch basins near the health department and will be looking to replace some windows and HVAC units,” said Ihle. “We are working to prioritize the needs of county.”
One other major thing the increase is allowing for is that the county can pay its bills on time without having to take out loans or an advance on the real estate funds.
In the past, bills at the end of the year have been carried over to the next year so that there will be a small balance in the account to begin the new year. This year that should not be the case. In the past, loans have been taken out to cover the cost of grants, which are paid be reimbursements, after the county has paid for them. The loans are repaid from the reimbursement when it is received.
If revenue remains consistent throughout the remainder of 2013, the county should see an increase of slightly more than $750,000.
So far for 2013, the average sales tax received by the county is $191,253.76, compared to an average of $120,870 per month for the first 6 months of last year.
Another item that has helped the county budget is the casino tax revenue. Payments to each of Ohio’s 88 counties are made four times a year. Since the payments began in July 2012, Meigs County has received $255,989.49.