sedaliademocrat.com

City, county eye falling sales tax trend

December 22, 2012

Continuing declines in sales tax numbers may have an effect on next year’s budget talks, city officials said.


According to city finance director Pam Burlingame, the city collected $418,425 in sales tax revenue during the month of November.


“When we look at November of last year, we collected approximately $531,000, but that number is skewed a little high because of some reporting issues we had,” she said. “To get a more accurate picture we’re looking at numbers from the past few years, $450,000, $487,000 and $444,000. Looking at those, yes, we’re still down, but it’s not as severe.”


Pettis County Commissioner John Meehan echoed those thoughts, saying they compared to last year when county sales tax revenue was down about $250,000.


“I think 2011 was sort of an anomaly. We did so well,” he said. “We were down 4.3 percent this year compared to last, which sounds very negative, but when you look at the 2010 numbers, we’re actually up $149,000.”


Burlingame said she couldn’t specify why city sales tax numbers have been down, though she did point out one area company — which by law she cannot name — hasn’t reported revenue numbers.


“We’re hoping things will straighten out by the end of this month, which is also the end of the third quarter,” she said. “We’re also hoping those holiday sales will pick up.”


Even if the sales tax does rebound, the numbers will likely affect the city’s budget talks, which begin next month. The next fiscal year begins April 1 and departments will start proposing budgets to the Sedalia City Council soon.


“Eleven percent down is considerable, so that will come into play,” Burlingame said. “If we do have to make cuts, they won’t be operational; if anything, we’ll be looking at capital purchases. Council will have to make those decisions in March.”


Because the county runs on a calendar year, its fiscal year starts Jan. 1 and Meehan said the decline in sales revenue had little effect on the budget.


“We generally always approve a conservative budget so we didn’t need to make significant cuts,” he said. “In fact, this year, like the year before, we found opportunities to reduce expenses internally, saving the taxpayers money, and we’ll continue to do that next year.


“I think we’re lucky to live in a county that has proven to have a relatively stable economy. Of course, we’ll continue to keep an eye on sales tax numbers, but I’m optimistic about a rebound.”