Sales tax slide has stopped

Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

ALBANY, Ga. -- Despite projections that both the city of Albany and Dougherty County will be short on sales tax collections for Special-Purpose Local-Option Sales Tax V, county finance officials say the recessionary tumble has stopped.

The county will likely trim $1.8 million in SPLOST funding from the line item that was supposed to help fund the Albany Museum of Art's move to downtown to cope with the expected SPLOST V shortfall, but county Finance Director Karen Goff said Monday the numbers are finally leveling out.

"The slide has stopped. We're leveling off," Goff said. "We aren't seeing the increase that the state has seen, but the slide has stopped."

The museum board has abandoned the idea of a downtown move so trimming that project should not affect any existing plans, County Administrator Richard Crowdis told the Dougherty County Commission Monday.

In reality, the "recessionary" impact on the SPLOST V collections is much more significant than $1.8 million. In total, projections show that there will be a $3.1 million revenue shortfall by the time collections stop in March 2011.

But $1.3 million in interest accrued on SPLOST funds has helped slow the downward spiral. However, officials say additional cuts will be needed to bridge the gap.

The city is anticipating a similar shortfall, city Finance Director Kris Newton said. According to its latest estimates, sales tax collections will fall roughly $2.3 million short of where officials had originally planned.

Like the county, interest accrued on the principal amount over the history of SPLOST is up to roughly $2.2 million, which will translate into roughly a $100,000 gap.

Subsequently, city officials intend to scale back funding of at least two projects, the Holloway Basin project and the Chehaw Overpass over Philema Road, in order to meet project collections.

In other SPLOST-related news, the County Commission heard from the head of its Finance Committee and Crowdis about reallocating funding between SPLOST V projects.

County officials intend to reallocate $102,763 in funding from the SPLOST V line item "Future Road Projects" and $497,547 from the Gillionville Road Widening Project to fund railroad crossing improvements, an east Albany Road project, street lighting improvements and to buy equipment to help improve the county's ISO rating.

The county intends to improve the crossings at Pecan Lane, Mock Road at Short Street and the 900 block of Phoebe Drive.

The county will also consider reallocating $34,900 from the SPLOST IV contingency fund to pay for capital improvements to First Tee of Albany, a nonprofit which helps area children turn from crime and learn life lessons through golf.