The Norman Transcript

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June 12, 2013

Norman sales tax running below projections

NORMAN — Norman sales tax collections continue to fall below budget predictions, with the last receipt of the fiscal year rolling in well under budget predictions this month.

Studies indicating that online shopping is growing in the college population could provide a reason for Norman’s flagging tax receipts, and legislation under consideration might provide the solution. But e-fairness legislation is seemingly lost in a U.S. House subcommittee, and Norman must make do while hoping other revenue makes up the difference. This month’s disappointing sales tax numbers are no surprise, Norman Finance Director Anthony Francisco said.

“That’s the trend that we’ve been on,” Francisco said. “We do expect to grow some from here, but this was not a surprise.”

Norman received its last disbursement, $4,963,078, from the Oklahoma Tax Commission for the fiscal year on June 10. Of that total, $709,010 will be diverted to the Public Safety Sales Tax fund as is required by ballot mandate. June tax receipts for Norman are up $68,247, or 1.63 percent more than collections for the same time period last year — well below the 4.2 percent increase the city budgeted.

Midway through the fiscal year, other revenues were above budget predictions enough to make up the difference. At that time, general revenue funds as a whole had remained on target. However, that has been slipping in recent months.

“We were about 0.3 percent below, which is really pretty much on budget,” Francisco said.

This month’s total general fund revenue isn’t known at this time.

The fiscal year ends June 30. Francisco is budgeting a 4.2 percent increase for next year, FY 2014, with the belief the city can hit that growth target because of this year’s low collections.

There is no easy answer as to why sales tax collections were disappointing this year, Francisco said.

“It’s complex, with a lot of moving parts, but it’s related to the economy and the psychological impacts,” Francisco said. “I think people are just cautious, particularly as it relates to discretionary spending.”

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