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Auto Sales Surge Brings Tax Boost For Carroll County

Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 5:23 PM

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Some eastern Ohio counties have seen a boost in tax revenue over the last few months thanks to natural gas drilling in the area. As ideastream’s Michelle Kanu reports, truck sales are a big part of that increase.

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Car and truck sales brought in over $60,000 in sales taxes for Carroll County in May 2012, a 50% boost over last year. Mike Guess says his dealership has sold more of these $60,000 pick-ups with jacked-up suspension and fancy rims.

A mile south of Carrollton off of Steubenville Rd, parallel rows of red, grey, and white pick-ups sparkle in the sun on the parking lot of Guess Motors.  This family owned auto dealership has been in business 79 years and usually sells about 70 vehicles a month.

But this year, General Manager Mike Guess says business is up 28 percent, and he’s never seen such a jump in his 30 plus years of working for the dealership.  Guess attributes the boost to all of the natural gas drilling activity going on in Carroll County.

Guess: “A lot of people want heavier trucks for work.  Whether they’re people that are from around the area, a lot of the vehicles that we’ve sold with the money they’ve received from gas and oil is heavier trucks, three quarter ton trucks like the Ford that we have back here.”

Also, farmers reaping windfalls from leasing their land and mineral rights are now free to invest in that vehicle they’d held off on buying. 
But Guess says it isn’t just his sales department seeing more customers.

Guess: “Our service has increased a lot basically from all these companies that are here with trucks and they need repairs, so we’ve done a lot more with service than we have with years past.”

The surge in business has enabled Guess to add eight new staffers, purchase new office equipment and beef up the dealership’s online presence.
And all of that sales and service activity is paying off for Carroll County.

VanHorne: “We’re up about $200,000 this year at this point in sales tax collection over the same period last year.  $200,000.  That’s a lot for Carroll County.”
County auditor LeRoy VanHorne says part of the extra cash is going toward improvements to the county’s downtown offices.  Much of the rest will go into the rainy day fund that was depleted during the recession.

VanHorne: “We might not have to walk on pins and needles trying to preserve every dime we have.  We can probably relax, employees will see a slight increase in pay scale, which they haven’t seen for three or four years, rather than the budget being cut, cut, cut.”

Other eastern Ohio counties have also seen sales tax collections improve.  Columbiana County has seen a 10 percent bump, and further south in Harrison County, tax collection is up 28 percent over April last year.

While Carroll County notes the biggest revenue growth comes from motor vehicle sales, Auditor VanHorne says the county is also seeing increases from oil and gas companies opening new satellite offices.  All this growth is welcome, VanHorne says, but he doesn’t expect the boom times to last forever.

VanHorne: “More people are still signing leases, more wells are being drilled, so there’s yet a lot of people to come that will be getting revenues.  But in time, all of the gas lines will be laid, all the wells will be in effect pumping gas and oil. So I see it dropping off.”

VanHorne says he just hopes it doesn’t drop off too drastically, too fast.

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Economy, Regional Economy/Business - News, Government/Politics, Shale

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