MOUNT VERNON — Though parts of the nation received a substantial boost from the sales tax generated by “Cash for Clunkers,” Knox County’s income is continuing to lag, suggesting that the recession isn’t going to release its grip on central Ohio easily.
“It doesn’t look like Cash for Clunkers did anything,” said Commissioner Robert Wise, reviewing the latest county sales tax income figures on Monday.
“Maybe the figures would have been even worse without it,” Commissioner Teresa Bemiller observed.
The figures received Monday are for the September 2009 reporting period and reported a sales tax income of $294,386 in Knox County. This is down $37,139 from income in the same period last year.
In comparing trends, however, it is a less severe lag than the previous two months, when reported figures lagged around $49,000 each month behind the same months last year. The rest of the year has been consistently lagging behind last year, with the exception of May, which reported the income for March 2009, a month that actually exceeded last year’s income.
The moderating seen in the latest figures may be caused by the federal incentive for trading in old, inefficient cars for new ones, which was done to spark auto sales and bolster sales tax income. Ohio saw over $136,000,000 in voucher dollars claimed in the program, covering a portion of the costs of new cars, according to figures released by the federal government.
“This may be too rural of an area to see much of a boost,” Bemiller said, surmising that Ohio’s cities would get the most help from the incentive program.
Sales tax income should trail upward for the next few months, reflecting holiday and post-holiday shopping. The traditional late-winter lag will be reflected in the tax figures reported in April and May of 2010.