The Highland County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday discussed falling sales tax revenue and Commissioner Shane Wilkin’s meeting with U.S. Department of Justice officials earlier in the week.
Highland County Auditor Bill Fawley presented the board with the most current permissive sales tax receipt report, which shows the county so far this year has taken in approximately $160,000 less in sales tax revenue than it did in the same timeframe last year.
Wilkin said the county is on track to collect a total of $670,000 less this year than last year.
The board also discussed the meeting that took place in Washington, D.C. earlier this week between DOJ officials, Wilkin and commission clerk Nicole Oberrecht revisiting the stalled federal grant for Rocky Fork Lake.
“I do think we made some progress by sitting down face-to-face,” Wilkin said.
According to Wilkin, one of the primary concerns expressed by DOJ officials was that if the county land bank, which would be partially funded by the grant, buys property using federal funds, the federal government then has an interest in the land.
Wilkin said the county will instead apply for administrative funding for the land bank.
Wilkin said the county will submit a revised budget for the grant by the end of March and apply for an extension for the grant cycle, which ends in October.
Wilkin also said DOJ officials will provide samples of policies and procedures from other projects rather than requiring the county to come up with its own, which was at one point a stipulation.
Barb Cole, a Hillsboro resident who often attends public meetings, asked why available federal grant funds for posting a sheriff’s deputy at the lake are not being utilized, and Wilkin said the county is waiting until it has submitted the finalized budget before spending any more of the grant money.
Cole also expressed concern that while the land bank will receive funding from the grant, it will not be completely dedicated to the lake area. Wilkin said 16 Rocky Fork-area properties are specifically mentioned in the grant and will take priority.
In other business Wednesday, Commissioner Terry Britton said he swore in Michael Richard as a member of the Highland County Board of DD, replacing longtime member Linda Allen, who recently retired.
Britton said sewer repairs at the Highland County Justice Center have been completed.
Highland County Commissioner Jeff Duncan said new MARCS radios for county emergency services have been ordered.
The commissioners also approved routine contracts and financial resolutions.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.