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Warren County’s retail sales approaching a record high

— While some people are muttering about an uncertain economy, Warren County is experiencing booming retail sales.

How much of a boom?

The county’s sales tax revenue for 2012 is likely to be the highest on record, county Treasurer Michael Swan predicted on Monday Dec. 24.

As of this last week, the county collected $42,613,546 with several weeks of 2012’s revenue not yet collected or reported. The hefty sum represents a $1.1 million year-to-date increase over 2011, or a 2.9 percent hike.

A total of $3,309,384 was collected on November’s sales, a solid increase over 2011.

Warren County’s leaders budgeted $42.1 million in sales tax revenue for 2012, and with a month yet uncollected, the revenue has already surpassed 2012’s total by $500,000.

The total sales tax revenue is likely to be as much as $47.2 million, granting a $5.1 million surplus to county residents. Half of the sales tax revenue the county receives is paid out to the local towns, and the other half is retained by the county.

If the $47.2 million total is attained, as county leaders now predict, it will be one of the highest totals on record and perhaps the highest ever, Swan said on Christmas Eve.

“Sales tax is coming in at a good pace,” he said. “If we get $4 million more, it would be a phenomenal year.”

Swan said that fuel prices have fallen recently, but they are still a touch higher than last year — and are not likely to skew the sales tax figures much.

He said that automobile sales were likely the chief factor in the heavy increase of tax revenue.

“Detroit is selling a ton of cars through our local dealers,” he said.

But general retail sales seem to be robust also, he said, predicting a very strong holiday revenues for area businesses.

“I was at the mall yesterday and the stores were packed,” he said. “There are a lot of people spending money right now.”

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