City sales tax up for second month |

City sales tax up for second month

Christina M. Currie

City sales tax was up for the second month in a row, and for the second month, officials aren’t sure what to attribute the increase to.

“It’s tough unless someone wants to step forward and take credit for it,” Finance Director Bruce Nelson said.

He said no one industry showed large gains, rather a few businesses in a single category charted increased sales while others went down.

The increase means a $14,961.65 jump in sales tax collections compared with June 2004, a 7.22 percent jump. Although not as significant as the 12.54 percent increase officials saw in May, it helps bring the city $39,616.62 ahead of sales tax revenue at this time last year.

The trend was seen throughout the county. The percentage of sales tax collected by the county and shared with the city also increased 9.99 percent this June compared with a year ago. Although the dollars that figure represents are less — $7,702 — the city’s still collected more than it budgeted and more than was collected in 2004.

Under the Aspen Tree owner Jackie Roberts said her business wasn’t the reason for the increase. She said her summer sales have been down and the spring was slow.

“I can’t think of any reason sales tax was up,” she said.

Although he said the summer has been the busiest he’s ever had, Frank Moe, owner of Craig’s Best Western, doesn’t think that’s the entire reason for the jump in sales. He does think that his jump in occupancy indicates increased tourism in the area, which could account for better sales.

At Safeway, sales were steady — neither stellar nor low, general manager Chuck Sadvar said.

Though the opening of Murdoch’s and the proposed construction of a Wal-Mart Supercenter are likely to affect the city’s bottom line, Nelson is hesitant to guess how much.

“It could keep money in town or it could just mean sales transfer,” he said.

The city is beginning the process of making its 2006 budget, and Nelson said he’ll estimate revenues near 2005 estimates.

“You have to stick with the trends because you just don’t know what will happen,” he said. “It’s a guessing game. You just try to base it on the last couple of years.”

He won’t speculate that the addition of two major retailers will affect the city’s bottom line until he sees it happen.

“There are just too many variables,” he said. “You don’t know what to count on.”

City department leaders have submitted their budgets to Nelson, who will compile the requests. That will be reviewed by City Manager Jim Ferree who will meet with department leaders in the next few weeks to discuss their requests.

After those are pared down, the City Council will receive a draft copy of the budget, which it will review in a day-long workshop in October.

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