The first fiscal waves from the COVID-19 storm have reached shore, as expected, in the latest sales tax figures for North Platte and lodging tax figures for Lincoln County.
Net receipts from the city’s 1.5% sales tax for March totaled $563,518, a 12.7% drop from the same month in 2019, according to Nebraska Department of Revenue figures.
Net lodging taxes remitted to the county fell to $33,859 for March, 37.4% below last year’s figure for that month.
The Revenue Department collects both city sales taxes and county lodging taxes for those respective local governments, which receive them about six weeks after each collection month ends.
That means cities and counties won’t know until mid-June how much less they’ll get from collections for April, the first full month after “directed health measures” began curtailing Nebraska’s economic activity due to COVID-19.
Sales taxes provide more money to North Platte’s city budget than property taxes do. The city should be ready for midyear budget cuts if sales tax collections fall off even more, City Councilman Ty Lucas said at the May 5 council meeting.
March’s sharply lower sales and lodging tax figures contrasted with a strong February for collections in North Platte and Lincoln County.
Net city sales taxes for February had gone up 12.2% over the previous year, while county lodging taxes that month had risen by 20.9% over February 2019.
But despite March’s coronavirus-related declines, collections of both types of taxes remained ahead of their 2018-19 paces for the respective city and county fiscal years.
Total sales taxes for the first half of the 2019-20 fiscal year were $3.85 million, 2.3% ahead of the $3.77 million for the same six months.
City fiscal years in Nebraska start Oct. 1, the same as the federal government, while state and county fiscal years start July 1.
With nine months of their 2019-20 fiscal year completed, Lincoln County had received $641,766 in lodging taxes, 4.2% better than the $616,018 between July 2018 and March 2019.
County lodging taxes are reserved for tourism promotion activities under state law. North Platte collects its own city “occupation tax” on hotel and motel bills, money that currently goes to the Golden Spike Tower & Visitor Center.