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GCPS tax collections highest in 20 months

Photo by Brian Giandelone

Photo by Brian Giandelone

SUWANEE — Gwinnett County Public Schools’ January sales tax collections topped $13 million, the highest collections have been since May 2009, Chief Financial Officer Rick Cost said.

The money comes from a 1 percent sales tax levied on all purchases made in Gwinnett County. The education special purpose local option sales tax, which went into effect in 2007 and is set to expire in 2012, can be used to fund capital projects, such as the construction of schools.

Cost told the school board the collections were encouraging, but it’s too early to tell if a trend is developing. He said it takes at least three months before the beginning of a trend can be confirmed and at least six months for a trend to develop.

The $13.3 million collected in January was more than 15 percent higher than the previous high in September 2009, when collections reached about $11.6 million, Cost said. The May 2009 collection was nearly $14.4 million.

“While this January number is encouraging, we also know it reflects the holiday shopping season in December,” Cost said. “In addition, high unemployment continues to be a concern.”

The actual January collections were about 75 percent of the projection, which was $17.7 million.

So far, the sales tax has collected $458.1 million, which is about 66 percent of what was projected.

When the current sales tax was approved by voters, the referendum also authorized the school board to sell short-term bonds to fund the construction of new schools more quickly. Those bonds are being repaid by the sales tax collections.