Sales tax profit expectedSales tax revenue across the state will increase 4 percent per year for the next two years, with the economy playing a key role, said Mark
By: Lisa Call, The Dickinson Press
Sales tax revenue across the state will increase 4 percent per year for the next two years, with the economy playing a key role, said Mark Johnson, executive director of the North Dakota Association of Counties.
“They (Office of Management and Budget, in Bismarck) projected that two years prior to that and it went up 12 percent so who knows what’s going to happen in our economy,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the tax department recently issued its January, February and March sales tax revenue receipts and it was up approximately 3.8 percent from the current 5 percent.
“They (OMB) are pretty close,” Johnson said.
Along with Johnson, Terry Traynor, assistant director of policy and programs at NDACo, discussed state- budget projections at a recent Southwest Association of Counties meeting, held in Dickinson.
The association, represented by county commissioners and auditors from nine area counties, meets bi-annually. Counties rotate the responsibility of acting chairman.
“Its going to take you guys a long time (to meet) for how much money was spent this year,” said Jim Arthaud, Billings County commissioner and SAC chairman.
“Big money issues,” Johnson said. “Highway funding was an extremely difficult issue.”
The highway distribution fund was reformed to start sending all vehicle and fuel tax revenue directly into the fund. The fund will also now include townships, said Johnson.
“There were no losers, so now we’re all in the same fund again,” Johnson said.
Johnson also said the Legislature granted a one-time distribution of $51 million in road funds to local governments.
The state-aid distribution fund has experienced an enormous amount of change over the past decade, increasing from $11 million in 1997 to $22 million in 2007, Johnson said. With this monetary increase, he said all counties share these monies to some extent.
Disaster emergency services was granted an additional $22.5 million to be used for snow removal.
Johnson stressed the importance of lobbying legislators to affect change.
“Urban legislators have a real distrust for what counties are doing,” Johnson said.
Traynor discussed the estimated state-aid distribution projections for all counties in North Dakota, with Stark County projected to receive an estimated $926,452 in 2009.
“It’s incumbent upon us as your association (NDACo) and all of us as counties to try and educate citizens better on what this money goes for and how important it is to their daily lives,” Traynor said.