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County delays construction projects

Henderson County will delay maintenance and repair projects that are not yet under way as it confronts a dramatic drop in sales tax revenue and a potential decline in other tax sources.

Construction manager David Berry walked the Board of Commissioners on Wednesday through delayed projects for the county, the school system and Blue Ridge Community College. Projects under way, like the Hendersonville High School construction/renovation, will continue because the contracts have been let.

The sales tax shared by the state is the second largest source of county revenue after the property tax. With restaurants, the hospitality industry and many other businesses shuttered, the county forecasts a steep drop in sales tax revenue starting in March and continuing as long as the county remains under a stay-home order.

"Right now the estimate for April, May, June is down from 10 to 50 percent, we don't know," County Manager Steve Wyatt said. "That's a big range but we know it will not be what we thought it was and unfortunately the numbers come to us a couple of moths late. As we talk about the budget we need to delay the current remaining proje with the econoy there is some risk of cost escalation. We don't want to see further slow-down but a slowdown could result in lower construction costs if contractors are hungry for work."

"We're talking about millions of dollars" in lost sales tax revenue, Commissioner Bill Lapsley said. "It's a big deal."

Also unknown is whether the largest source of county revenue will decline, too.

"There's some concern about property tax collection," Wyatt said.

Projects on hold include:

  • Upward Elementary School entrance reconfiguration and cafeteria work, $702,000
  • Rudby Middle School, renovate entrance, $500,000.
  • ADA study of disability access at stadiums, $25,000.
  • Project Empower Chromebooks, $300,000.
  • Blue Ridge Community College, renovate Basic Law Enforcement Training space, $405,000.
  • BRCC, welding booth, industrial skills center, $35,000.