MOULTRIE — A softening national economy has not yet endangered sales tax receipts that pave Colquitt Countyand city roads, fund a Moultrie sewage plant upgrade and pay for recreation and other improvements in other municipalities, officials said.

However, the two lowest collection months since the special purpose local option sales tax began collections in March 2007 have occurred in the past five months, and economists have warned that a slowdown in collections will be felt throughout the state and nation.

In March collections for the 1 percent tax declined to $385,351 compared to $444,807 in March 2007, the first month of collections on the six-year tax expected to bring in $30 million. In January collections totaled $385,351. For the remainder of the year collections totaled $563,288 in February, $482,276 in April, $499,053 in May and $545,328 in July.

Collections are so far keeping pace with the monthly amount needed to raise $30 million, County Administrator Marion Hay said.

“They figured it would average $416,00 a month,” he said. “That’s what they had estimated it would take to bring in the $30 million. It’s averaging $469,000 a month. It looks like the economy is doing pretty good.”

Collections have gotten a boost by new businesses, particularly development along the bypass, Hay said.

“Certainly there is a certain amount of growth you’re going to experience,” he said. “Certainly that bypass is growing like crazy. You’ve got a lot of growth taking place. There’s all kinds of things that have come since we got National Beef and Sanderson Farms, as a direct result of that. I think the Colquitt County economy is healthy.”

Among the projects on tap for sales tax funding are:

• $12.5 million for roads and bridges

• $1 million each for a sheriff’s office administrative building and new prison

• $9.72 million for Moultrie waste water treatment improvements

• $2 million for a Moultrie streets and drainage project

• $600,000 for Doerun

• $176,000 for Berlin

• 126,000 for Funston

• $130,000 for Ellenton

• $353,000 for Norman Park

• $40,00 for Riverside

• $75,000 for Colquitt County Library

• $275,000 for Moultrie Municipal Airport improvements

• $2 million for Moultrie-Colquitt County Development Authority

Charles Weathers, county roads and bridges superintendent, said that he anticipates some slowdown will be felt in the tax. If that occurs it will be up to Colquitt County Commission to make decisions on paring back or delaying projects.

“I anticipate it lasting 12 to 18 months before we see an increase in it,” he said. “If you don’t receive the money you can’t improve existing roads.

Proceeds from the tax must be spent on capital outlay projects, which for roadways includes such projects as bridges, improving dirt roads, paving dirt roads or resurfacing paved roads.

“It can’t be maintenance,” he said.

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