Auditor Thomas Releases Positive Economic Indicator for Ashtabula County
Jefferson- Ashtabula County Auditor David Thomas announced total collections for the county’s sales tax for the 2019 Fiscal Year. Collections were up from previous years, a sign of good economic progress he shared.
Ashtabula County collected $10,806,213.82 in sales tax for Fiscal Year 2019, a $433,734.22 increase over 2018, which covers sales from November 2018 to October 2019. This is the second highest collection in ten years with 2016’s collection of $10,835,143 serving as the decade’s highest and 2010’s collection of $8,553,790 being the decade’s lowest.
The Ashtabula County portion of sales tax is 1%, while the state collects in 5.75% for a total of 6.75%. Comparatively, Cuyahoga County’s portion of 2.25% is the region’s highest with Lake County at 1.25% and both Geauga and Trumbull also at 1%.
“We have seen steady growth in our sales tax collection despite no change in the tax rate,” shared Auditor Thomas. “This means our county’s economic activity is increasing, people are spending more dollars in county, and consumer confidence is at an impressive high.”
Fiscal Year 2019 saw a 4.18% increase in collection over 2018 and a 21% over collection in 2010. These gains are despite the loss of the Medicaid managed care organization (MCO) tax which accounted for an average of 7.9% of county collections across the state.
“Add this positive news to the record low unemployment numbers, strong real estate market, and new business investment we are seeing and I think it is safe to say we’re having a good economic rebound in Ashtabula County,” stated Auditor Thomas.
The sales tax is not only an important economic indicator according to Thomas, but also a key piece of the county’s budget as well. “To put it in perspective, in 2019, the county’s General Fund received roughly $3,180,000 in property tax collection which makes it a small portion of our revenue. The sales tax though is nearly half of general fund revenues,” explained Auditor Thomas.
Total general fund revenue in 2018 was $23,684,000. The sales tax was 44% of that with revenues from other government sources a distant second of 19%. A downtick in sales tax revenue therefore would have an oversized impact on the health of the county’s budget.
“These numbers are very good and show we’re moving in the right direction. But with increases in expenditures due to the opioid crisis and public services, more is being required at the local level which takes more resources,” cautioned Auditor Thomas. “Despite being more unpredictable, sales tax puts a bigger share of the burden evenly among residents but also tourists and transient tax payers as well.”