For about a year, a lot of economists and financial experts have been predicting a recession.
However, so far that hasn’t happened.
Guilford County budget officials have to be aware of such financial threats because each year in June, just before the start of the fiscal year on July 1, they have to make a very rough guess as to how much revenue the county will pull in in the coming year through property taxes, sales taxes, fees, charges and other revenue streams.
In at least one regard, things are running right as predicted. Sales tax revenue for the county is coming in just as expected. That’s good because it’s an important revenue stream that can dry up fast in a bad economic downturn.
Guilford County has a 6.75 cent sales charge for each dollar sold of many items, and all of that money first goes to the state, which keeps 4.75 cents of that amount, and gives Guilford County 2 cents back for each 6.75 cents collected.
Two cents doesn’t sound like a lot, but it adds up quick and, for the current fiscal year, 2023-2024, budget officials estimate the sales tax will bring in $102 million to the county.
According to a recent report from county budget staff, sales tax revenue “continues to track in line with [the fiscal year’s] budget estimates” – though the report points out that that could change if something bad were to happen in the first half of 2024.
Sales tax revenue, of course, strongly mirrors the amount of retail sales, which have been rising steadily each year since the pandemic in 2020 and 2021.
Many Guilford County commissioners have wanted to see a quarter-cent increase in the county’s tax rate to generate even more money through this revenue stream however, county residents continue to vote down the idea every time the commissioners put it on the ballot.