STEUBENVILLE - The Jefferson County commissioners say sales revenues are running as much as 21 percent to 14 percent above last year's receipts.
"It means people are spending more," Commissioner Tom Graham said. "Fourteen percent above normal, that's beyond our expectations. It's a sign that someone is spending money in the county, there's a lot more spending going on."
The 1.5 percent sales and use tax has generated a total of $3.661 million so far this year, up from the $3.284 million it had brought in this same time last year.
Deputy Auditor Vicki Winski said the 1 percent tax has brought in just under $400,000 more this year, while revenue from the extra half-percent has generated about $188,000 more this year.
The oil and gas industry is part of the reason for the uptick. Not only has it created hundreds of new jobs already, but lease royalty payments have pumped millions into the community as well - all of which factors into the increased revenue projections.
"The new activity we're seeing everywhere is a good piece of it," Commissioner Dave Maple said. "Really, it's a year-over-year change. 2011 was not a fantastic year, so this is a real shot-in-the-arm."
Maple said it's definitely a good situation to be in.
"When we built the budget for 2012, we (were) pretty conservative, but we also were thinking that we might see some increased revenue throughout the year," he added. "I'm just glad to see the predictions starting to come true. Hopefully, it puts us in a good place to start the budgeting process for next year."
Maple, though, cautions that increases aside, county finances "will still be pretty tight."
"It's not to the point where we can start changing how we operate," he said, "but it's a good sign for the county. We'll have to see actual dollar (amounts)" before we make appropriations' changes, though the board of elections and Jefferson County Veteran Service Commission have already demonstrated need.
"Really, it's a very positivew sign for 2013, "but we don't know how much of an effect it will have on the rest of the 2012 bdget year," he said.
Maple said ultimately, "it (comes down) to how much is available and what the needs are."
"We'll be looking at making those kinds of decisions," he said. "For me, it's not so much for 2012, we already have a budget in place. But it will definitely shape our strategy for 2013."
Graham, meanwhile, said the uptick in revenues is a good place to be.
"We can prioritize easier in terms of projects," he said. "When you have more money to work with, you can do a lot more things."