DuPage expecting drop in sales tax revenue due to COVID-19

 
 
Updated 4/7/2020 5:52 PM

DuPage County officials are bracing for a steep decline in sales tax revenue as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

Because of a lag in when the county receives the money, officials won't know until May exactly how much sales tax revenue they're losing while shopping malls, theaters and other nonessential businesses are closed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

But county board member Robert Larsen said sales tax revenue is expected to fall well short of projections.

"We know it's going to drop precipitously -- at least in the short term," said Larsen, a Wheaton Republican and chairman of the board's finance committee.

DuPage has a $183.8 million general fund, which includes the budgets of most county offices and departments. Roughly 55% of revenue for that fund was expected to come from sales taxes.

Normally, DuPage receives about $3.5 million a week for its general fund.

If there's a 20% reduction in sales tax collections, the county would see its weekly revenue decline by roughly $500,000. If there's a 60% reduction, DuPage's weekly revenue would plummet by roughly $1.5 million.

"Even at the lower numbers, it's a substantial hit," Larsen said. "But we're making plans to deal with it."

Department heads and countywide elected officials already have been asked to find savings. They've also been told to document all virus-related costs because the county may seek federal grant money to offset them.

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Larsen said the county isn't doing anything drastic yet.

"We're not putting on a hiring freeze," he said. "We're not cutting staff."

He said officials will examine revenue numbers -- and determine what budget adjustments are needed -- as the year continues.

It's possible some projects could get pushed back a year.

The good news, Larsen says, is that DuPage has budgeted responsibly for a long time and has roughly $55 million in cash reserves.

"We are absolutely committed to doing everything we can to maintain the function of the county and our tremendous staff without overburdening the taxpayers," Larsen said.

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