MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Sales tax collections in Martinsburg have exceeded estimates through the first five months of the fiscal year.
Mark Spickler, the city’s finance director, was recently informed by the state treasurer’s office that sales tax collections for September, October and November totaled $876,464.81.
“That does not include December, that will be in the next quarter, but it does include Black Friday,” Spickler said Friday in a telephone interview. “After the first two months, I was expecting over $800,000. At this rate, we can expect $3.2 million or maybe closer to $3.5 million for the year, rather than the $2.6 million or $2.7 million I projected.”
Sales tax collections for July and August were $548,914.32. That is a total of a little more than $1.4 million for the first five months of the fiscal year.
“My projections were low – it was a conservative estimate,” Spickler said. “These amounts are probably what I was expecting, more what I hoped for. The important thing is we’re building a pot of money that can be used for projects. Council will make those decisions when they start talking about next year’s budget in a couple months.”
When Martinsburg was accepted into the state’s Municipal Home Rule Pilot Program Phase II in 2014, it was allowed to assess a 1 percent sales tax on eligible items.
It had to eliminate or reduce its business and occupation tax as part of the program. City Council members approved eliminating the B&O tax on amusement businesses and reduce by 10 percent the B&O tax on retail and wholesale businesses. Spickler estimated the city would lose about $300,000 in B&O tax revenue with those changes.
The city’s B&O tax revenues are expected to be about $400,000 more than usual this fiscal year because of some major construction projects, such as commercial development along Foxcroft Avenue and the city’s wastewater treatment plant project.
The city is rebuilding its sewer plant to meet EPA mandates to reduce pollutants getting into the Chesapeake Bay via its tributaries. Martinsburg is in the Potomac River watershed, which is one of the bay’s major tributaries.
Those construction projects are not expected to continue into the next fiscal year, Spickler said.
Charles Town and Ranson also were accepted for the Home Rule Program and began assessing a 1 percent sales tax in July.
According to the state treasurer’s website, Charles Town collected $193,143.56, and Ranson collected $239,380.55 in sales tax revenues in September, October and November. Their totals for the first five months of the fiscal year are about $308,000 and about $377,000 respectively.
Bolivar also began collecting a 1 percent sales tax in July, although it was not accepted into the Home Rule Program. It has collected $11,821 through the first five months of the fiscal year.
Harpers Ferry was accepted into the Home Rule Program last year and will begin collecting a 1 percent sales tax in July.
Staff writer John McVey can be reached at 304-263-3381, ext. 128, or twitter.com/jmcveyJN.