Sales tax revenue down more than $2.8M in DuPage

 
 
Updated 7/22/2020 3:06 PM

Sales tax revenue for DuPage County is more than $2.8 million short of projections because of the COVID-19 crisis, but officials say it could be worse.

The county's sales tax revenue was ahead of budget until shopping malls, movie theaters and other nonessential businesses were forced to close due to the pandemic. Then sales tax collections were about $1.37 million, or 15.9%, less than expected for April and $2.72 million, or 32%, less than expected for May.

 

County board member Robert Larsen on Wednesday said the numbers are concerning but not as bad as predicted.

"They weren't as bad as our worst fears," said Larsen, a Wheaton Republican and chairman of the board's finance committee.

Because of a lag in when the county receives the money, officials won't know the June sales tax receipts until August.

"We're hoping they're going to be better than they were May," Larsen said. "May was kind of the peak of the issues before we started opening things back up again."

DuPage has a $183.8 million general fund budget for the 2020 fiscal year that started Dec. 1. The fund, which includes the budgets of most county offices and departments, was supposed to get roughly 55% of its revenue from sales taxes.

To prepare for the reduction in sales tax revenue, department heads and countywide elected officials were asked several months ago to find savings.

So while total revenue for the county could be down by an estimated $20 million this fiscal year, Larsen said total expenditures are expected be reduced by roughly $8 million.

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Also, officials have been documenting all virus-related costs because the county may use federal relief money to offset those expenses.

In the meantime, there are no plans for the county to cut staff.

"We're not filling vacant positions unnecessarily," Larsen said, "but there is no across-the-board hiring freeze."
County officials will continue examining revenue numbers, and determine what budget adjustments are needed, as the year continues.

If DuPage ends its fiscal year on Nov. 30 with a shortfall, the county can dip into its cash reserves, which is currently more than $59 million.

"The good news is that because of our fiscal planning," Larsen said, "we're in a good cash position."

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