BY ED GEBERT
Times Bulletin Editor
egebert@timesbulletin.com
VAN WERT — Sales tax collections in Van Wert County was down again in the March report, showing that retail sales in the county in Febrary 2014 was a little more than two percent behind sales made 0ne year prior in the county. In a report released over the weekend by Van Wert County Treasurer Bev Fuerst, Collections were down for the fifth consecutive month.
The county’s 1.5 percent permissive sales tax is a tool used to track the amount of retail sales made within the county during a certain month.
For three years, decreases in monthly reports were rare, but beginning with the December 2013 report of October sales from that year, the totals have been showing a negative trend.
As of this report, the county still does not have a budget issue, but if the trend of decrases would continue, tax receipts may not reach the figure of $4,020,000 in the county’s 2014 budget. Currently, the receipts are more than $75,000 behind 2013 receipts. The April report shows sales dropping in most categories, although sales at big box stores in the county made a small increase in February sales. If the county numbers are met for the rest of the year, the county would take in more than $4,055,000. in 2014. However, getting to that point is likely to be a long, uphill battle.
For the month, county retailers collecgted $301,753, which is over $7,216 less than the same month one year ago. The not-so-bad news from the report is that the decreases are not substantial. The current April report shows a difference of less than 2.5 percent from the April 2013 figures.
The county collectedc more than 10 percent less during the crucial December 2013 sales period.
Other local economic news of late has been better than average as falling unemployment rates have been providing hope in the area. The state unemployment rate which was released Friday for the state of Ohio hit its lowest mark since 2008 at 6.1 percent. Specifics for Van Wert County will be released on Tuesday by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. In the last report, the February unemployment rate in Van Wert County fell to a six-year low of 6.0 percent.