The Norman Transcript

July 10, 2013

Norman sales tax revenue continues to be below expectations

By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Norman sales tax revenue is already running behind budget projections for the new fiscal year. Moore tax collections also were down as a result of the tornado.

Sales tax remittance to Norman from the Oklahoma Tax Commission for July was $5,240,851 — 3.27 percent growth over last year. Of that, $748,692 will be diverted to the Public Safety Sales Tax fund. Use tax collections brought in an additional $178,856.

Norman Finance Director Anthony Francisco had predicted a 4 percent growth for Fiscal Year 2014, which started July 1.

Francisco said it’s too early to jump to conclusions about what the coming year will bring.

“We had an above-average July last year — we grew 5.4 percent,” Francisco said. “We’re entering a new fiscal year, and we never try to draw a trend from one month of collection.”

Sales tax is an important portion of the city’s revenue, but it isn’t the only revenue. Last year’s full revenue stream has not been computed, Francisco said. For much of the year, other revenues made up the difference for lagging sales tax income.

Some city leaders believe construction at the Interstate 35 and Main Street interchange has put a damper on sales tax at Sooner Mall and major retailers in the area, but the numbers don’t support that conclusion.

“The analysis of their sales tax collections has been in line with the rest of the city,” Francisco said. “Their sales tax hasn’t changed that much since the construction.”

The July deposit represents primarily May collections. The tornadoes May 19 and 20, may boost sales tax next month in Norman when people get their insurance money for repairs, Francisco said.

“There is certainly reason to believe there will be an increase in room tax, and we’ve already experienced that,” Francisco said. “We probably won’t see an increase in sales tax until next month’s collection.”

Moore’s sales tax was down also with the city receiving $2,091,362 — an 11 percent drop from last year’s collections for the same time period.

“We totally expected that to happen,” Moore Finance Director Jim Corbett said.

Last year, Moore received $2,314,903 during July. Moore recently ended the fiscal year up 5.7 percent which was comfortably above budget predictions of 5 percent, Corbett said.

The tornado has changed everything for FY 2014.

“We were just hours from the budget being adopted on May 20,” Corbett said. “We had a council meeting scheduled at 6:30.”

The tornado hit that afternoon and the meeting was canceled.

“The budget was adopted on June 3,” Corbett said. “It was adopted as is. We didn’t make any adjustments at that point.”

There will be many adjustments made to the FY 2014 budget in coming months, he said. On Monday, the city council will consider a supplement for FY 2013 for costs related to the tornado.

“There will be additional supplements throughout the summer,” Corbett said.

Those adjustments will affect FY 2014.

Corbett said the city expects a sales tax slump followed by a boom as businesses reopen and people rebuild.

Joy Hampton