Jackson presents revenue analysis and forecast

Published 5:42 pm Friday, February 14, 2020

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JACKSON – The forecast is cautiously optimistic.

That was the general statement from Northampton County Manager Charles Jackson as he presented his Five-Year Revenue History and Forecast to the Board of Commissioners at their regular meeting here on Feb. 3.

As planning for next year’s budget begins, Jackson examined the county’s financial history for the past five years in order to determine what can be expected in the future.

“The keyword is ‘trend.’ You want to make sure you’re trending in the right direction,” he explained.

Jackson identified four major sources of revenue: ad valorem taxes, general sales and use taxes, federal/state shared funds, and user fees and service charges.

Looking at the General Fund revenue trends, Jackson reported a dip in FY16 followed by a surprising four percent average increase in the three fiscal years since then. In FY16, the General Fund revenue totaled almost $25.5 million and FY19 totaled $28.3 million.

“I cannot tell you how rare that is for a locality of this size,” Jackson said of the recent steady increase.

Breaking it down by revenue type, property (ad valorem) tax revenue also showed a slowly increasing growth rate after a dip in FY16. Sales tax revenue also increased, jumping from $1.7 million in FY15 to $3 million in FY19.

“This means there’s a lot of business activity occurring in the county,” he explained. “This is a positive sign in terms of trending. I’m very optimistic about this.”

Based on the past numbers, Jackson’s revenue forecast for the next five years assumes continued growth. Following the four percent trend from before, the General Fund revenue could total over $34 million by FY25.

The county manager concluded his presentation by emphasizing an optimistic but conservative growth expectation for the future. He recommended continued focus on tax collection and an aggressive pursuit of economic development, as well as containment of the county’s major cost drivers such as health insurance and capital projects.

“Our staff is working extremely hard to make Northampton County a better place to live and work,” Jackson said.