County Commissioners expect major decrease in revenue in upcoming fiscal year

Drew Butler

The upcoming fiscal year will likely bring a major decrease in revenue for Carter County. Low oil prices were already poised to significantly reduce funds gathered from production taxes, and then the COVID-19 pandemic followed which is expected to cause a drop in sales tax revenue in the coming year.

Jerry Alvord, Carter County Commissioner for District 3, said these anticipated decreases will cause significant impact to services.

“Here in Carter County, we’re going to get a dramatic reduction in our production taxes because of the oil,” Alvord said. “The majority of our roads and bridges are sustained from our production tax, and that’s going to probably be cut anywhere from 50% to 64%.”

Alvord is also a member of the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma, and as a board member he also works with other counties across the state. He said the financial impact will not be unique to Carter County.

“It’s projected that our sales tax revenue across the state will be down a minimum of 14%,” Alvord said. “But having said that, I think you’re going to see dramatic differences between different counties. For example, the majority of Oklahoma County is a municipality, so their sales tax is going to be affected differently than ours.”

Alvord said the current fiscal year will end on June 30, and the new one will begin July 1. He expects counties across the state to be more conservative in their spending next year than ever before.

“Sadly there’s no choice but to see a diminishment in services,” Alvord said. “If we don’t have the money, we don’t have the money. I personally believe things will come back quickly, and this is going to be short term — at least on the local level. On the state level it will probably be at least a full year before things are made whole again.”

Fortunately, the current fiscal year was only moderately affected by the drop in tax revenue, though they are seeing some deficits in maintenance and operation programs. Alvord stressed, however, any project currently underway will be completed because all the money needed for any project must be set aside prior to work beginning. He’s just not sure what projects will be slated for the coming year.

“We’re preparing and doing the best we can, but in reality we don’t know what’s going to happen,” Alvord said. “I hope and pray there’s not a big difference in what people have been seeing versus what’s to come, but we just don’t know yet. I just hope people can understand and be patient with us. I hope there’s not a really big visual difference, but I fear there may be, and I think the first place you’ll see it would be on your roads and bridges.”