MOULTRIE, Ga. — Colquitt County got a half-million-dollar surprise when it received sales tax revenue for September.

County Administrator Chas Cannon briefed county commissioners on September’s financial indicators at the work session that preceded Tuesday night’s commission meeting. Revenue associated with the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) jumped from $480,446 in September 2019 to $982,270 in September 2020, Cannon said.

The state Department of Revenue collects sales taxes throughout the state then sends money to each county in accordance with the sales made there and the taxes that voters have approved there.

Cannon said the Department of Revenue explained that a major retailer had been under-paying sales tax across the state and an audit caught the problem. The additional $501,824 was Colquitt County’s portion of the correction.

Cannon said the state refused to identify who the retailer was. County commissioners joked that someone could probably figure it out by seeing whose accountant had been fired.

The Colquitt County Board of Education received increased SPLOST money of about the same amount, superintendent Doug Howell said on Wednesday. Other agencies that receive sales tax revenue, such as the Moultrie-Colquitt County Development Authority and Parks and Recreation Authority, also saw increases.

The increase was a one-time occurrence, Cannon said; SPLOST receipts should return to normal in October.

Excluding September’s unexpected windfall, the county’s sales tax receipts are still doing well, Cannon said. August’s SPLOST returns were the highest he’d ever seen at that time.

Possible reasons for the strong sales tax results include the $1,200 federal stimulus related to the coronavirus, a $600 bonus to unemployment payments that recently expired and a state law requiring online companies to collect sales tax. 

Some of the county’s other sources of revenue were also up in September:

• The Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax brought in $477,994 in September, compared to $422,599 during the same month of 2019.

• Excise tax revenues for the county were $4,149.47, up from $3,731.45 in September 2019.

• Residential solid waste revenues rose to $197,992.71 from $143,386.30.

• Landfill use fees slipped to $66,426 from $67,818.

• Recycling fees, however, plummeted to $18,099 in September from $47,744 in September 2019.

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