Sales tax revenue $500K over budget

Heather Mullinix, Crossville Chronicle, Tenn.
·5 min read

Feb. 22—Cumberland County continues to see strong revenue collections this fiscal year, with sales tax collections up $500,000 from budget projections. But it's unclear just how much a change in distribution of online sales tax is impacting county revenue.

"Internet sales continue to be a good contribution to our total collections," County Finance Director Nathan Brock told the Cumberland County Commission during its Feb. 16 meeting. "But the reports we get from the state, it's hard to get that down to the exact amount. You can see out-of-state sales, which are assumed to be internet sales. But it's tracking very well."

Tennessee requires online retailers and those who use a marketplace facilitator, like Etsy or Amazon, to collect sales tax for the merchants. Individual merchants with more than $500,000 in sales in the state must also remit sales tax to the state.

The state uses the delivery address of purchases to determine the share of taxes going to the county or to the city of Crossville.

The county collected $977,133 in sales tax revenue in January, which is $128,753 above the budget projection. For the year, the county has collected $5.8 million against a $10.5 million budget. Sales tax revenue goes toward the operation of the school system.

Sales tax collections reflect sales from two months prior. Brock said the February report will include December sales and is typically the largest month of sales tax collection each year. That report has not been issued by the state yet.

The county had also collected more than 63% of property tax payments by the end of January. Because Feb. 28 falls on Sunday this year, the Cumberland County Trustee will accept payments in their office on March 1 without penalty.

The trustee's office in the in the Milo Lemert Memorial Building, 2 S. Main St., across from the Cumberland County Courthouse. Call 484-5730. The office is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

The trustee's office accepts payments by credit or debit card, though it does charge a 2.75% transaction fee.

Taxes not paid by the due day accrue interest of 1.5% per month.

The office will also accept payments for 2019 property taxes through March 31. After that date, 2019 taxes will be turned over to the Clerk and Master's office for collection.

Emergency Medical Service collections were slightly below budget for January, with $314,227 collected against a budget of $333,333. However, the department is still over its year-to-date budget collections by $405,263.

"Overall, collections are very good," Brock said.

Several community donations were accepted by the Cumberland County Commission.

The donations included $5,000 from the Fairfield Glade Ladies Club to the school system's Career and Technical Education department and $4,872 to the Cumberland County Animal Shelter.

"We take those donations and put it into their supplies budget, which gives them latitude to spend that money best for the animal shelter," explained Brock during the budget committee meeting Feb. 2.

The Ladies Club donation will be used to purchase licensing agreements to allow CTE students in the school system to take part in virtual learning labs.

"We would like to recognize and thank the Fairfield Glade Ladies Club," Kacee Harris, school system chief financial officer, told the budget committee. "It's hard to do some of those hands-on activities when you're not in the classroom. This will go toward that."

Other budget amendments approved by the commission were:

—Acceptance of an $80,000 grant from the EPA Diesel Emissions Reduction Act, and transfer of $16,620 from tires and tubes and vehicle parts budget lines to purchase an additional bus for the school system

—$17,000 budget amendment transferring funds to cover budget lines at risk of being overspent, adding $6,500 for special education certified substitutes, $10,000 for unemployment compensation and $500 for audit services, taking $6,500 from special education non-certified substitutes and $10,500 from savings in the worker's compensation insurance budget

—Acceptance of two middle school STEM grants totaling $37,693.60 to purchase equipment to launch a new STEM middle school program at Brown, Homestead, Martin and Stone elementary schools and to launch a career exploration program at South Cumberland and North Cumberland elementary schools

—$14,095 transfer from a restricted account for administration of justice to purchase data processing equipment for the circuit court clerk's office

In other business, the commission approved the appointment of Beth Wyatt-Davis to the Crossville-Cumberland County Convention and Visitors Bureau, with her term to expire Aug. 31, 2021, and Sheryl Webb to the Cumberland County Health and Safety Standards Board, with her term expiring May 15, 2021.

Earlier in the month, the budget committee approved line-item budget amendments to reallocate $3,000 in the election commission budget from in-service training to other charges to pay expenses related to an upcoming move to Northside Dr.

A $2,000 line-item budget amendment will move funds from other contracted services to communication in the county trustee's office. That line pays for phone and internet service.

Line-item budget amendments do not require action by the full commission and are approved at the committee level.

Heather Mullinix is editor of the Crossville Chronicle. She covers schools and education in Cumberland County. She may be reached at hmullinix@crossville-chronicle.com.