During a failed effort to convince voters to approve a 0.5 percent sales tax increase coupled with a reduction in property tax values, the county commissioners had projected a budget deficit of between $4 million and $6 million. Voters resoundingly rejected the measure at the polls Nov. 5.
On Tuesday as the commissioners started budget hearings for next year, the deficit projection had shrunk to $1.3 million.
Commissioner Ted Kalo said the smaller estimate came about because the Budget Commission had increased the county’s projected revenue for next year.
County Auditor Craig Snodgrass said that’s because the county is on track for a record year of sales tax income and could end the year with $17.2 million in the 0.5 percent sales tax the county collects for general fund operations. The county had estimated that a 0.5 percent sales tax rate would generate $16.5 million.
Snodgrass also said that conveyance fees for property sales are up this year. He said that the county’s cut of casino revenue will also likely be larger next year.
“Revenues are definitely stronger,” Snodgrass said.
But Snodgrass also cautioned that the county continues to suffer from reduced funding from the state and that interest income remains low.