By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Despite a strong showing in July, Norman’s sales tax growth figures as compared to last year’s collections have run below budget predictions. On a more positive note, statewide sales tax collections for October were up 4 percent over 2011 collections, according to State Treasurer Ken Miller’s press release.
If Norman is lucky, its sales tax collections will echo the state’s numbers when those October collections are dispersed to the city in December.
Meanwhile, City Finance Director Anthony Francisco reported that sales tax received from the Oklahoma Tax Commission on Nov. 8 equaled just more than $4 million, representing less than 1 percent growth over collections for the same time period in 2011. November disbursements from OTC represent primarily September collections.
Public Safety Sales Tax for the same month equaled $680,069, bringing the total received by Norman on Nov. 8 to $4,760,494.
Collections for Norman’s fiscal year, which began July 1, are up 3.2 percent for those five months cumulatively.
That’s uncomfortably below the city’s budget projections for Fiscal Year 2013 of 4.1 percent. If that trend continues, there could be a revenue shortfall.
“The city would have to make some reductions on the expenditure side if the revenue side does not meet budget projections,” Francisco said.
Francisco said other revenue sources are offsetting the downtrend of sales tax collections.
“While sales tax is the largest general revenue source, overall general fund revenues are on budget,” he said.
Use tax collections are running above budget projections. A large portion of use tax comes from construction as well as from catalogue and online sales.
In addition, motor fuel and tobacco tax collections received from the state are running above projections, Francisco said. These other revenue sources are keeping the city on track to meet budget needs.
Moore Finance Director Jim Corbett said Moore received $2,024, 718 on Nov. 8, an increase of 3.66 over last year.
“Year to date, we’re 6.27 percent up,” Corbett. “We’re a little bit ahead of our projections.”
Corbett had budgeted for a 4 percent increase over last year.
Use tax for Moore is also up.
“At the pace we’re going, we will exceed last year’s receipts by about a 10 percent growth if we continue as we have,” Corbett said.
Cleveland County sales tax collections on Nov. 8 were $583,431, which is a slight increase over last year’s collections for the same time period. Use tax collections were $23,975, which is down 3.2 percent from last year’s use tax collections for the same time period, according to Oklahoma Tax Commission deposit letter reports.
Other cities in Cleveland County include Noble, receiving $129,719 in sales tax, Lexington $28,067 and Slaughterville $9,733. Noble and Lexington were up from last year, while Slaughterville was down slightly.
Treasurer Miller reported strong October revenues, as measured by the monthly gross receipts, which increased 9 percent over last year. Miller reported that this increase was the highest percentage in eight months.
Oklahoma’s October revenue increase “was driven primarily by personal income tax collections, up by more than 20 percent, and better gross production numbers, which earlier this year had fallen as much as 54 percent below prior year collections,” according to the press release.
“Oklahoma’s economy is showing marked improvement,” Miller said. “After leveling off for some six months, revenue collections have resumed their positive trajectory.”
October gross production collections remain below last year’s numbers. The state’s other major revenue streams — sales and motor vehicle taxes — grew during October, up 4 percent and almost 12 percent, respectively, Miller reported.
The state treasurer also reported that “the Business Conditions Index for Oklahoma improved in October. The leading economic indicator rose to 63.3 from 56.6 in September. Numbers above 50 mean growth is expected. The weakest number in the survey, while still in positive territory, is in the area of employment, due to some reports of shortages of skilled workers.”
Oklahoma’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 5.2 percent in September, according to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.
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