Clinton County’s General Fund coffers get a surprise $919,000 windfall

By Gary Huffenberger -

Clinton County Budget Commission member Andrew McCoy.

Clinton County Budget Commission member Andrew McCoy.

News Journal file photo

WILMINGTON — A couple times this year the Ohio Department of Taxation has reached out to the county auditor’s office because the monthly sales tax collections seemed extremely high to the state officials.

In fact, the officials in Columbus did investigatory background work to make sure the sales tax dollars are truly incoming Clinton County revenue and were not some kind of mistake, Clinton County Chief Deputy Auditor Logan Bailey told county commissioners Wednesday.

The good news is that the unexpected jump in sales tax dollars is not an error. Actual sales tax dollars for Clinton County from January through July this year, as compared to the same months last year, have increased $918,901.

State officials aren’t permitted to inform county officials who the taxpayer(s) in question is, but they did let the local officials know there had been “some one-time large purchases that came through that generated a significant bump in our [Clinton County] sales tax,” related Bailey.

To calculate the increase as a percent figure, the sales tax revenue so far this year for Clinton County is up 27 percent compared to the same time frame last year.

Bailey said that while state officials are restricted in disclosing who the sales taxpayer is, she emphasized they indicated the purchases are one-time and thus not something to base longer-term budget planning upon.

Meanwhile, county financial staffers are monitoring sales tax figures to see how long the welcome trend will keep going.

Clinton County Assistant Prosecutor Andrew McCoy, who like Bailey is a member of the Clinton County Budget Commission, told commissioners on Wednesday, “The indications are there are several specific vendors that have made large sales over those several months.”

The county may or may not see similar sales tax receipts during the second half of 2019, McCoy said.

And although the large local private purchases this year are described as one-time rather than recurring costs, county government officials will soon see higher sales tax collections for a different reason. The sales tax rate in Clinton County will increase by 0.5 percent (½ of 1 percent) starting Oct. 1.

Clinton County commissioners approved the increase in early July, thereby re-instating a 0.5 percent county sales tax that in 2016 commissioners did not renew.

Since letting the tax roll off the books, the county has relied on carryover cash to annually balance General Fund operating budget coffers with expenses.

The county’s carryover has been spent down during the past three annual budget appropriations. For those three budgets there were revenue shortfalls, respectively, of about $1.9 million, $1.5 million, and $1.9 million.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.

Clinton County Budget Commission member Andrew McCoy. County Budget Commission member Andrew McCoy. News Journal file photo Journal file photo

By Gary Huffenberger