County sales-tax revenue on pace for record high
Delaware County sales-tax receipts stood at $21.9 million at the end of June -- an increase of 8 percent over last year's numbers.
Actual receipts outpaced budgeted receipts in five of the first six months in 2012.
At the current pace, the county will collect nearly $44 million in sales tax this year, which would be a record.
What is Delaware's secret to robust sales-tax collection?
"I wish I knew," said County Commissioner Tommy Thompson.
"I think one thing we've done as commissioners is communicate well, both with the voters in the county and our local businesses," he said. "That's a good start."
County Administrator Tim Hansley said several things factor into Delaware's record-setting sales receipts.
"First of all, it's location, location, location," he said.
"We're very fortunate to have the Polaris retail area in the southern part of Delaware County.
"Second, we have a diverse tax base," Hansley said.
"We are half urban, half rural. We have a good mix of car dealerships in Delaware and growing retail centers in Powell and Sunbury."
Cabela's Outfitters has begun construction of a store at Polaris, and Menard's recently proposed a store on U.S. Route 23 south of Delaware.
Hansley said the county hopes the recent improvements at the Delaware-Sunbury exit of Interstate 71 will spur even more retail activity.
"The lifeblood of county government is our sales-tax receipts," he said.
The mid-year report, which was generated by county Budget Manager Letha George in Hansley's department, also included numbers for building starts, sewer connections and property taxes.
Through June, the county had 271 new single-family dwellings and 380 sanitary-sewer connections.
"Sales receipts were good news, but so are the housing starts," Hansley said.
"We're on a pace for roughly 540 single-family homes and 760 sewer connections, which will be our best year since before 2008 and the recession."
The rebound in housing starts is particularly good news, Hansley said.
"Housing starts always precede an uptick in sales-tax receipts," he said.
"We'll never get back to the early 2000s, when the county was adding 700, 800, 900 homes a year, but we think 500 homes is realistic and sustainable.
"We think it will become the new normal."
The only bad news in the mid-year report was a decline in property taxes, which Hansley said was expected.
"When property values go up, we get more in taxes," he said, "but it's only fair when property values go down that we give owners a break on their taxes."
Property tax revenues have decreased 6 percent from $5.2 million in 2011 to $4.9 million in 2012.