Snow fell heavily on county budget

In areas presumably other than milk and bread, February’s uncharacteristically rough weather seems to have had an impact on sales tax revenue.

Island County Budget Manager Doug Martin told commissioners Wednesday sales tax revenue still increased slightly, but with a lower net increase compared to last year. The numbers represent February sales, which led him and commissioners to believe Whidbey’s Snowmaggedon had made its mark.

“Once they cleaned out the grocery store, they stayed home,” said Commissioner Helen Price Johnson at the meeting.

Martin said in an interview he’s been tracking economic predictions and, although there’s an estimated plateauing of growth on the horizon, he sees no cause for concern.

The month’s sales brought in almost $526,100, and last year the county received approximately $513,000. Revenue from construction dipped below 2018’s revenues, but Martin said he expects that number to be especially dependent on mellowing weather.

At the request of Commissioner Janet St. Clair, Martin also reported the total cost of snow removal for the year. Island County Public Works spent $477,073 in salaries and benefits and supplies for the service, which exceeded the department’s snow budget by $90,561. Approximately $55,000 was used for materials such as salt and sand for the roads.

Pubic Works Director Bill Oakes said the extra costs were absorbed in his maintenance budget, however there might need to be more adjustments made if another storm hits before the start of the new year.

Oakes said he’s discussed the possibility of increasing the snow budget for 2020, just in case.

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