Albemarle County could receive $700,000 from sales mistakenly attributed to Charlottesville

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UPDATE: Wednesday, February 9

Albemarle County budget auditor Tim Conrad is likely the man of the hour at the county office building. Yesterday, C-VILLE reported on the year-over-year retail tax revenues generated in both the county and city. (See original post below; Albemarle improved, while Charlottesville declined slightly.) Part of the explanation for the trend, according to the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce, is the relocation of revenue that was incorrectly attributed to the city—revenue that Conrad spotted and redirected.

Or, perhaps Conrad is the nearly-one-million-dollar man. According to Albemarle officials, who offered an estimate of the sales tax revenue transferred from the city, the county could see as much as $720,000 once the Department of Taxation completes its review.

County spokesperson Lee Catlin says that county has already received or is slated to receive $692,245, of which $420,596 is from the city. There is another round of pending sales tax revenue totaling $313,700, of which $299,700 is from the city, that Albemarle may receive.

"Pending transfers are those that are currently under review or audit by the Department of Taxation," says Catlin via e-mail. "The $313,700 is an estimate based onr esearch. That number could go up or down based on their review."

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Does retail decline beget retail therapy? Maybe in Albemarle County, where 2010 sales tax revenue data shows a 6.56 percent increase compared to the previous year. In contrast, Charlottesville retail tax revenues dropped 2.1 percent compared to 2009 figures. Neither city nor county has returned to pre-recession sales numbers, which reached five-year sales tax revenue peaks in 2007. For complete statistics, see the chart below.

According to a news release from the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce, some of the discrepancy between Albemarle and Charlottesville sales figures is due to misattribution: Occasionally, Albemarle County retailers with Charlottesville mailing addresses are considered city businesses. Correcting those numbers, according to the Chamber, "moved retail sales to the proper jurisdiction resulting in an increase with the county and a corresponding decline in the city." The Chamber data does not quantify those adjustments, but notes that retail sales generated a $760,000 gain in tax revenue for Albemarle and a $193,000 decline in Charlottesville. 

Retail sales, 2010: Albemarle and Charlottesville

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