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Latest sales tax figures up

Sales tax collections for Lawrence County are up by almost 10 percent compared to this time last year. However, that doesn’t automatically mean there will be more money for the county to spend in 2013.

“We possibly could but are not sure,” Chief Deputy Chris Kline said. “With sales tax we only have six months. You take it one month at a time.”

The county budget commission is scheduled to meet July 16 to re-evaluate all revenue sources to determine if a new certification of revenue is needed. In December 2012 the commission, which officially determines how much money will come into the county in a given year, certified $7.4 million in sales tax. Of that $5 million is expected to come from the 1 percent sales tax and goes into the general fund. The remaining $2.4 million comes from the 1/2 percent sales tax and is earmarked for the sheriff’s office and emergency services.

Last week, the state reported Lawrence County received $486,071 in March from the one percent tax, which is $40,255 more than March 2012. The one-half percent tax brought in $243,035.

But Kline has seen sales tax projections change dramatically from one month to the next, including the time when $350,000 was deducted from a single month’s collection.

“Someone had overpaid and they filed an appeal and won,” he said. “You get no advance notice.”

Other sources of revenue include the casino revenue, which is currently up slightly for Lawrence County, and the local government fund. The amount of that will be determined in the state budget that the legislators must have in place by the end of the month.

“We have to see what the actual budget that gets passed is,” Kline said. “In the last week the whole budget has changed dramatically.”

Among the proposed changes are increasing state sales tax a quarter of a percent; and tying the homestead exemption on property tax for owners 65 years or older or disabled to income. Legislators may also eliminate the 12.5 percent discount the state gives property owners on tax levies. That change would apply to any new or replacement levies.

The commission will re-evaluate all revenue sources to determine if the certification should be increased.

“We will know where we are financially,” Commission President Bill Pratt said.