Wilson County is now seeing budget benefits from the half-cent sales tax increase voters passed in March, which took effect in May as many local businesses began reopening.
Aaron Maynard, Wilson County’s finance director, said sales tax figures from June numbered $6.2 million, up from $4.7 million at the same time last year.
“If the higher tax rate had been in effect last year, it would have been about $1.1 million higher,” Maynard said. “So you’re effectively looking at the difference between $5.8 million and $6.2 million, which means roughly $400,000 in new economic activity.”
Maynard said June 2019’s numbers were also inflated by a taxpayer that overpaid the county, but that the county as a whole is collecting more than he expected during the pandemic.
“Everything has been really right on par, with the exception of hotel/motel tax because people aren’t traveling,” he said. “That’s not to say there aren’t areas where people are suffering, particularly in the restaurant and bar industries, but so far I’m not seeing a significant downturn as far as the overall numbers.”
Tennessee as a whole seems to share that outlook, based on recent figures from the state’s Department of Revenue.
“I noticed the state of Tennessee reporting pretty impressive revenue numbers, actually, for last month,” District 3 Commissioner Bobby Franklin said during the Wilson County Commission’s meeting July 20. “Up 4.6% in the middle of this seems extraordinary to me … even though some funds were down statewide, some were up, and an enormous amount in the internet sales tax.”
Internet sales tax has been another bright spot for local governments facing uncertain financial futures. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of states’ rights to tax remote sales in 2018, and Tennessee began enforcing the rule in July 2019.
In addition, Wilson County’s various departments have submitted contingency plans that could cut 2%, 4% and 6% from their budgets if future revenue reports paint a less optimistic picture.
The commission also elected District 4 Commissioner Chad Barnard to serve a four-year term as road commissioner for Zone 2 and recognized a proclamation designating Aug. 22 as a day of prayer for schools in Wilson County. Local businessman Jack Cato, an original investor in Cracker Barrel, was also recognized after recently celebrating his 90th birthday at The Pavilion Senior Living.
The Wilson County Commission’s next regularly scheduled meeting will take place on Aug. 17 at the Wilson County Courthouse, located at 228 E. Main St. in Lebanon.