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Greenwood City explains the figures behind tax revenue shortfalls

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on government revenue collections, particularly in accommodations and hospitality tax revenue. But, city officials say there is hope for the city’s budget.

“Hospitality tax collections are down 17% ($179,595) from February — July 2020 compared to the same period of 2019,” Steffanie Dorn, finance director for the City of Greenwood, said in an email. “We typically use these funds to pay for special events, beautification efforts, the topiaries and funding assistance to the Emerald Triangle entities (Theater, Arts Center and Museum).”

She said accommodations tax collections, which are directed to Discover Greenwood for tourism, are down 3% or $2,995 for the same period. She said the city collects this tax for Greenwood County as well. Those collections are down 46% or $40,911 for the year, Dorn said.

Dorn explained that accommodations and hospitality taxes have restrictions on how they can be used and do not contribute to the general fund’s ability to pay for general operating costs.

“Business license payments are coming in as expected,” Dorn said. “The bulk of general fund revenues are generated by property taxes and business licenses.”

She noted that license fees are based on the prior year’s gross receipts.

While this might be helpful for now, it could create challenges for 2021.

“We are estimating about a $100,000 reduction in this year’s budgeted amount when we budget for 2021,” Dorn said.

She said retail establishments are only reporting a 1% reduction in the first six months of 2020 based on data from the state Department of Revenue.

“Overall, the city manager and I have been closely reviewing revenues and expenditures to date,” Dorn said. “We believe that with various cost saving measures that we have implemented, we will be able to maintain a balanced budget for 2020.

Dorn, who starts this week as assistant county treasurer for Greenwood County, will continue to assist the city until a permanent replacement can be hired. It is expected that Dorn will become the county treasurer when current treasurer Cathy Miller retires.

Dorn’s last day with the city was Friday.

Contact staff writer James Hicks at jhicks@indexjournal.com or on Twitter @jameshicks3.

COVID-19

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South Carolina confirmed COVID-19 deaths topped 3,000 on Friday as Greenwood County's confirmed toll ticked up to 63.

State health officials reported 740 new confirmed cases and 41 new probable cases of the novel coronavirus on Thursday, along with 27 additional confirmed deaths and 1 new probable death.

Greenwood County recorded a confirmed and a probable COVID-19 death on Wednesday, moving the county's tally of confirmed deaths to 61 and probable deaths to eight.

Thursday night’s opportunity to sip, stroll and soak up history through Wild Hare Production’s Monologue’s on Main Street is likely to be canceled because of projected thunderstorms and heavy rainfall, according to guest artist Keith Jameson.

Greenwood Community Theatre announced Wednesday its cabaret fundraiser is postponed, “due to several health concerns and possible COVID exposures among our cast and crew.”

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

As the Lakelands and the country respond to the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has led to state and national emergency declarations, it is vital for everyone to have up-to-date information about the virus and its spread. As such, we're providing free access to all of our COVID-19 coverage, which is available on this page.

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