Hamilton County Sales Tax Revenue Drops, Budget Takes A Hit

Aug 3, 2017

Hamilton County's budget is facing challenges again. Revenue for the second quarter of the year isn't expected to meet projections. The county now expects to bring in about $2.2 million less than forecast for the second quarter of the year. The revised prediction comes as spending is also about $2.2 million more than budgeted.

County Administrator Jeff Aluotto said some of that is because of a drop in sales tax collections. He said for the first four months of the year revenues were above the same period last year.

"After that things really fell off on sales tax growth. Given the nature of the type of fall off we've seen, it's been in some very odd places in the sales tax reports that come from the state, we're hoping that pops back. Everything we're hearing in terms of consumer spending growth has been relatively positive," Aluotto told a gathering of county department leaders at Memorial Hall, Thursday afternoon.

Aluotto said the county still needs to make adjustments. He's recommending several actions including a hiring freeze and some non-personnel spending cuts across different departments.

"Some of the larger expenditures that we had been reserving for this year, we have taken those off the board. All three of those components that was designed to close the gap through the end of 2017."

Aluotto said the worry now is for 2018. He said in addition to looking for sales tax revenues to pick back up, the county will try to get more compensation from the state after the ending of a Medicaid managed care sales tax.

When Hamilton County Commissioners approved an adjusted budget this spring, they promised county workers a little more money. Commissioners signed off on a $1.3 million one-time compensation adjustment spread out among workers. Now employees are asking where the money is. 

Board President Todd Portune told department heads and fiscal officers it's coming. "There are reasons for the delay but they do not suggest, nor should anyone conclude, that because we haven't acted that the commitment to that package is not still there."

Portune said despite the unexpected drop in revenue, county employees will still get the bonuses. He said it will go a long way to improve morale and retain good people.

Aluotto said he hopes to present a plan for commissioners' approval before Labor Day.