The city got its latest sales tax check today, and it wasn’t good.
Sales tax revenues have been in a downward spiral for about a year now after the national recession came late to Oklahoma City. Collections are a bit delayed, meaning January’s check is for sales tax collected in the second half of November and first part of December.
January’s collections were $$2.4 million below target, about 12 percent. For the fiscal year, the city’s sales tax revenues are $17.4 million below what staff budgeted for the year.
The city is bracing for a tough budget year. With revenues in a continued slide, departments have been asked to cut 12 percent from their budgets. If you are a city employee, this is scary because it means likely layoffs. Pay cuts, furlough days and other personnel cuts could also be in play.
For most city residents, the cuts won’t be too painfully obvious, although the city will have to cut some services to make ends meet. This is the worst budget year the city has had in the seven years I’ve been on this beat. Complicating matters is the ongoing contract dispute between the city and its police and fire unions.
City staff won’t announce its recommended cuts for at least another three months. Until then, city employees will be crossing their fingers that they’ll still have their jobs come July 1, the start of the new fiscal year.
- Staff Writer Bryan Dean