County sales tax revenues exceed projections

by Emmitt B. Feldner
of The Review staff

SHEBOYGAN – Through its first 11 months, the half-percent county sales tax has outpaced expectations.

County Administrator Adam Payne reported to the County Board at their Feb. 20 meeting on proceeds from the tax, which was implemented Jan. 1, 2017.

Because of the one-month lapse between the collection of the tax by the state Department of Revenue and the forwarding of the funds to the county, the report showed proceeds for the last 11 months of 2017. It also included the amount forward by the DOR to the county in January, which reflected sales tax collected in December.

For 11 months of 2017, Payne reported, the county collected $8,027,771.09 in sales tax.

The county had projected sales tax revenues of $6.75 million in the 2017 budget, which meant the county had a positive variance for the sales tax of $1,277,771.09.

The county took in another $617,611.68 in sales tax revenue in January, reflecting December collections, but that amount will be counted as 2018 revenue for budget purposes. The county budgeted for $9 million in sales tax revenues in 2018.

“The revenues are going directly to transportation and property tax relief as you intended,” Payne told the board.

The county sales tax was earmarked for road projects when it was approved by the County Board in 2016. That included $2.5 million in revenue sharing with cities, towns and villages for them to use for road and street projects.

The county also used roughly $1 million of the sales tax revenue for debt relief in an effort to reduce property taxes, county Finance Director Wendy Charnon told the supervisors.

“It’s going into the fund balance for the transportation department,” Charnon said of the extra $1.277 million in revenues over the budgeted amount in 2017. That was in answer to a question from Supervisor Fay Uraynar.

“The additional money that went beyond the budgeted amount is going to support the transportation fund,” Board Chair Tom Wegner concurred.

Payne, in his report to the board, noted that work on the new $25 million transportation complex in the town of Plymouth is roughly 80 percent complete.

Equipment from the Elkhart Lake and Plymouth highway sheds, which are being consolidated into the new facility, is already being moved into the complex at the intersection of State 67 and County J.

He said the county should be able to take over the new building completely in the first week of April.

“Overall we’re under bud- get,” for the new complex, which will also replace the former Highway Department headquarters building in Sheboygan, Payne added.

He also reported that the county has fully recouped the cost of the Amsterdam Dunes property in the town of Holland purchase in 2014.

The county still has two lakefront residential lots for sale on the property and has more than $240,000 in funds on hand for the nature preserve property, which will include a wetlands mitigation bank.

“I think it’s fair to say Sheboygan County delivered,” Payne said of the Amsterdam Dunes project. “When is all is said and done we were going to break even but not only did we break even, we have funds to invest.”

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