JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – The City of Jacksonville is reporting pluses and minuses on its balance sheet and the tax revenue it’s bringing in.
“At one time in February and March, we were fearful that we may be short by as much as $3 or $4 million,” said City Manager Richard Woodruff.
Instead, Jacksonville officials report the city’s sales tax revenues for the last fiscal year only came in about $50,000 under their annual average of $13 million.
“To a degree, it’s a surprise to us because we did have a number of restaurants and several smaller businesses that were impacted,” Woodruff said.
Sales tax revenue will pay for city services like police and fire. Woodruff said one of the big factors saving the local economy came from sales at big box stores.
“Many people who are required to stay home, they did go out and shop, they went to the various large stores,” Woodruff said.
Hotels didn’t fare as well. Jacksonville normally gets $900,000 to $1 million a year from lodging taxes paid during hotel bookings. In the fiscal year that ended in June, the total was less than $100,000.
“In April we saw the lowest month that the city has ever seen in our collections,” Woodruff said.
Woodruff also said people won’t see the impact of reduced occupancy tax revenue. Money from those lodging taxes is used to sell Jacksonville as a vacation and business destination.
“Even though it’s a little lower than it has been in previous years, we don’t see that as any type of major impact, because remember, that is only used for marketing.”
Woodruff said local hotels are starting to see an uptick in visits which they expect to boost lodging taxes for the current fiscal year.
“We’re very fortunate that now that COVID is becoming something we’re learning to live with and people are visiting our Marines and sailors here and people are coming here for longer stays at the beach,” Woodruff said.
City leaders say they will continue to be conservative in their spending to keep finances under control.