Sales tax distribution officially changes

Apr. 16, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

In a split vote, the Lee County Board of Commissioners changed the county's sales tax distribution method during its Monday meeting. 

The change from the per capita method to ad valorem — which will net the county a $1.4 million in funds and decrease of $1.3 million and $100,000 to the municipalities of Sanford and Broadway, respectively — was approved with Commissioners Andre Knecht, Charlie Parks, Kirk Smith and Jim Womack voting for the resolution. Commissioners Amy Dalrymple, Ricky Frazier and Robert Reives voted in opposition. 

The change, which must be approved via resolution in April per state statue, will also negatively impact the city and town's current fiscal year budget, according to Lee County Manager John Crumpton.

"We want to bring into attention something that came to our attention over the weekend as far as the change in the sales tax distribution," Crumpton said before the vote. "If the board votes to change the distribution, the last two months of this year will be affected."

In essence, Crumpton said, it's estimated Sanford and Broadway will lose $200,000 and $20,000, respectively, during this current fiscal year, which ends June 30.

"It was raised by the city to the finance officer on Friday afternoon and I didn't want you to vote on it without knowing the complete effect," Crumpton said.  

The figures are estimates and should be officially reported in August, said Lee County Finance Director Lisa Minter. 

Womack asked Crumpton if there was a way through interlocal agreements to bridge the funding gap for the two municipalities. Parks said they couldn't legally offer a "rebate" for the two, but could possibly help through the interlocal agreements. 

"We do have letter of agreements that benefit the city and the town," Parks said. "If we can get those quick enough, through the letter of agreements, we can make it up to them."

Frazier said it seemed like the board was attempting to manipulate the process and he was "uncomfortable with doing these underhanded things."

Dalrymple agreed, and said she felt the commissioners were adding insult to injury with the change impacting the current year's budget. 

Womack said it was never any intention of himself or the commissioners to cause a negative impact for this fiscal year. 

"I don't think it is fair, right, appropriate to do that to any organization, any jurisdiction, in the midst of fiscal year and you pull some stunt that will effect the current year's revenue," Womack said. 

The four commissioners who voted in favor of the change said they plan to use the increased funds to lower the property tax value. Parks said the county has faced a shortfall this fiscal year and in years past.

"It's time we move on and take care of our county," Parks said. 

In other matters, Commissioners: 

* Received an update on the 2013 tax revaluation appeal process. There have been 89 formal appeals for the Lee County Board of Equalization and Review to consider as of Monday, said Lee County Tax Administrator Mary Yow. 

* A vote for establishing new, stricter county guidelines for economic incentives failed to pass, with Commissioners Amy Dalrymple, Ricky Frazier, Robert Reives and Kirk Smith voting against the proposal. 

* Approved a bid of $41,748 for new scanners for the Lee County Department of Social Services.