GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The county is looking at a shortfall of roughly $500,000 in certain revenue streams each month as a result of COVID-19’s effect on the local economy.
The Board of County Commissioners will have to take into account the coronavirus’ effect as it heads into the budgeting season for the 2020-21 fiscal year. Their budget is made up of a number of revenue sources including sales tax. With less businesses open and people spending less money, sales taxes are down, and the next fiscal year will have to reckon with that.
“If you take a look at the shortfall [already experienced], maybe as we go into the new fiscal year...we’re looking at...a $500,000 shortfall each month,” County manager Howard Wanamaker said.
Property values have increased by approximately 7.5% and if the same millage rate of 8.101 is maintained for the next fiscal year, that equates to a $6.5 million increase year over year. Florida statute forces the county to put aside 5% of that leaving roughly $6 million for the county to use. Property taxes are just one revenue stream for the county.
Sales tax is another revenue stream. The county began to shut down mid-March. It was closed down for the most part in April. March’s numbers weren’t reflected until May as numbers are always two months behind, Wanamaker said.
The May 2020 reports showed $4.848 million. It was $4.859 million in 2019. June’s numbers, which show for the economy’s shutdown in April, came in at $3,235,385. The number was $3,793,713 in 2019. This equates to a shortfall of $557,328. Wanamaker said this will likely offset the gains in ad valorem taxes and make revenue flat across the board.
There are a number of ways the BCC could address this, including raising the millage. Commissioner Gavin Rollins was quick to oppose that option.
“I don’t see any scenario where I would vote to do anything above the 8.101 millage currently,” Rollins said. “I won’t vote for a millage increase so we’ll have to make the budget work within the numbers we have as far as my vote goes.”
The BCC’s budget for 2019-20 was $129,437,085 and the proposed budget for fiscal year 2020-21 is $132,726,152. As additional numbers come in this month, Wanamaker and the BCC will have a more robust picture of the virus’ effect on the economy and that will likely play into future budgeting sessions.
“With the lack of revenue, rather than put it on the back of taxpayers, we’ll have to find a way to tighten our belt and hope it’s a blip,” commissioner Mike Cella said. “We’ll accelerate and move projects when we have the revenue. We’ll have to see how it all comes together and make a determination of wants and needs.”