By Gary Nelson
Senior staff writer
For the second month in a row, local option sales tax collection figures have taken a slight dip.
Cumberland County Finance Director Nathan Brock told commissioners on the budget committee that collection figures for the month of September were down by 2.08 percent, or $14,272, of budgeted figures.
Last month it was reported the figures for August were down by 4.4 percent, or $30,452.
"It's not anything to be alarmed about. These figures may show they are down, but that's being compared against budgeted numbers. In reality they were up for September in comparison to actual collections for September of last year," said Cumberland County Finance Director Nathan Brock.
Brock reported collection figures for September of this year were $672,060. Collections for last September in fiscal year 2011-'12 were $662,182.
He also reported that actual collections for this fiscal year were at $2,069,448, which is down by $9,641.
"We're hoping that maybe a good holiday season will bring the collection numbers up for the year," Brock said.
The majority of local option sales tax figures go toward the General Purpose School Fund budget.
In other areas, Brock reported hotel/motel tax collections were $245,504 so far for the fiscal year, which is 37.8 percent of the budget amount of $650,000.
"We are in good shape for hotel/motel tax collections and, if they continue at this rate, we may exceed budget," Brock said.
Ambulance service collections were at $844,056, which is 28.1 percent of the budgeted figure of $3 million.
Cumberland County Fire Chief and EMS Director Jeff Dodson reported that Medicare collections were still coming in at a good pace and that the funds have been collected all the way up to June of 2011.
"We still don't have July, which makes us about $54,000 short, but we should have that before too long and we are on track for this year," Dodson said.
There was a glitch last year and Medicare quit paying claims until the county was re-certified. At one point the county was owed nearly $500,000 from Medicare claims that had not been paid.
All but $54,000 of those have been reimbursed to the county.
"How do we stand on this as we go forward?" 7th District commissioner Mike Harvel asked.
"With the $54,000, that will have us caught up, and if we continue to collect at an average of $217,000 per month for the remainder of the fiscal year, we will hit budget figures," Brock said.
Dodson said he didn't see any issues with those collection figures and said he fully expected to meet those figures.
Carmin Lynch, 9th District commissioner, suggested that money saved by the ambulance department for not going toward the purchase of tough book computer and software programs could go toward the Cumberland County wideband paging system that is going to be constructed, since some of the EMS staff uses pagers.
Brock also reported to the budget committee about prisoner boarding figures in the Cumberland County Jail.
Brock said funds collected for the jail were already at $322,011 for three months out of a total budget of $740,000, which is 43 percent of the budget.
"This is something new we added in order for the committee to keep track of these numbers," Brock said.
Commissioners on the committee speculated the collection figures were higher due to the number of state prisoners being housed in the Cumberland County Jail.
In all, Brock reported hotel/motel tax collections, EMS and ambulance service collections and prisoner boarding fee collections were up in comparison to budgeted figures.