PUTNAM COUNTY — Year-over-year sales tax collection has had a significant drop during the first quarter of 2019. In an email from Putnam County Auditor Robert Benroth, he explains that the State Auditor’s Office has informed him that the March sales tax collection, “…would be down 15% from a year ago because one taxpayer was paying $57,000 less.”

Though it is unknown who this single-tax payer might be, it may be worth noting that construction contributed to an unusually strong 2018. Throughout last year, the State’s Auditor’s Office informed the county of a larger than anticipated sales tax payment by a, “Single construction related entity,” during multiple months. In total, Mr. Benroth estimates that this single company contributed between $200,000 and $220,000 in sales tax receipts for 2018.

Even with the $57,000 decline, other sources of sales tax were up during the same period, reducing the March’s year-over-year loss to a still-significant $52,000. There is a three-month standard delay in reporting sales tax figures to better ensure an accurate accounting. And, while the first quarter is down when compared to 2018, collections for January, February, and March remain higher this year than during the same time period in 2017 and 2016.

The contribution by the construction related entity in 2018 certainly assisted the county. $5,092,669.97 in sales tax was paid in 2018 vs. $4,607,929.25 paid in 2017. The difference of $193,870.24, while positive, is less than the contribution made by that entity. Without this single payer, the county’s sales tax collection would likely have been down for 2018 compared to 2017. And now, with the sales tax figures in for the first quarter of 2019, the drop in sales tax collection, though not without explanation, seems to be accelerating.