County sees increase in sales tax collection

Published 8:45 am Friday, August 20, 2021

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At the Chambers County Commission meeting on Monday, Avenue Insights Business Development Executive Yolanda Watkins-Bailey updated sales tax collection. They handle businesses in the county that received a Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan do not have a current business license.

In her talk, Bailey said the top 10 tax remitters in the county accounted for 29% of the overall revenue in Chambers County.

Bailey provided the commission with dates from Oct 2020 through July 2021. During that period, the average tax revenue was $450,000 with the highest month being March 2021, which was $517,073 and the 12-month low of $348,052 in February 2021, representing an overall increase of 5.09% over the same period last year.

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Watkins also told the commission 69.5% of the county’s revenue for this period comes from sales tax revenue, while seller’s use tax and consumer use tax accounts for 15.3% and 15.2%, respectively.

Watkins said Avenu collects for 48 of Alabama’s 67 counties and each are seeing an increase.

“At first, I thought when COVID hit that sales tax was going to go down, but people started online shopping, and redoing their house so that kind of helped,” Watkins said.

Watkins also reported that the county is doing well on audits as well.

“I read the report for October 2019 to September, but we haven’t got there yet, so, you are seeing a $5.97 return on every dollar that you spend on audits,” Watkins said.

Watkins told the commission that Avenu was on top of the PPP loan issue as it relates to businesses not having active business licenses and receiving PPP funds.

“We were given a list, but the list we were given was based on how we were searching by zip codes,” she said. “Because a lot of counties and cities have several zip codes, we requested that information in another format, which we just got last week. So, we are on top of that, and we will be going after that money.”

The City of Valley recently mailed letters to businesses that fell into this category.

PPP loans are being administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) and were designed to keep a workforce employed during the COVID-19 crisis. It has been a very beneficial program for legitimate businesses and their employees. However, there’s also some level of fraud.