Local schools lose funding as sales tax revenue plummets

Sales tax revenue in Morgan County is down 12 percent just in March. Commissioners say this could double in April.

Local schools lose funding as sales tax revenue plummets

MORGAN COUNTY, Ala. (WAFF) - In Alabama, sales tax is the lifeblood of public schools.

That’s brick and mortar sales tax revenue, outside of what you’re spending online.

Morgan County Commission Chairman Ray Long says there’s a decrease in tax revenue from March 2019 to March 2020.

“It’s down about 12 percent. That’s a pretty big blow to the numbers that’s coming in. That’ll have a big impact on what the schools actually get," Long explained.

Long says the commission is expecting an even bigger drop in April, estimating at a 25 to 30 percent loss.

Combining the loss in March and April of this year, that translates to more than $600,000 school districts will never see.

“When you first hear that, every little bit helps with the school systems and yes, any decrease in sales tax would definitely make an impact on our budget," Hartselle City Schools Superintendent Dee Dee Jones said.

Jones says she didn’t know about this deficit until WAFF 48 News contacted her.

Online sales tax revenue battle

Couple that with the ongoing legal fight on who gets what you’re spending online.

A local law passed last year sends online sales tax revenues to Hartselle, Decatur City and Morgan County Schools. That’s in addition to brick and mortar sales tax revenues.

The litigation between the county is waiting to be reviewed by the supreme court.

“This is a great example of how important the online sales tax means to school systems," Morgan County Schools Superintendent Bill Hopkins said.

Hopkins says school programs could be at risk.

“What it affects is our local funding. What we do as far as our local units, we use it for things like art, music, those type of items. Those extra things we’ve been blessed to have, it’s going to be lean times," Hopkins explained.

The same goes for Decatur City Schools.

Superintendent Michael Douglas says, they’ve prepared for a deficit. He also adds, online sales tax revenue would help.

“As the percentage of online sales increases, and brick and mortar decreases, it’s only going to become a greater issue statewide," Douglas said.

We’re looking into what online sales tax revenue Morgan County has seen to compare.

Copyright 2020 WAFF. All rights reserved.