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May 17, 2014

Sales tax trends upward

NORMAN — Five Saturdays in March, lively construction, and overall good business were likely reasons for a strong boost to city and county coffers this month. Sales tax receipts across the county continue to run well above last year’s tax revenues for the same time period.

Not surprisingly, use tax collections, which represent primarily construction, were way up in Moore. May use tax receipts for Moore were $77,856 this year — a whopping 41.9 percent increase over last year’s receipts of $54,869.

In addition to home and commercial construction, storm shelter construction is booming and is a likely contributor to sale and use tax collections. Moore permitted 2,165 shelters from May 21, 2013, through May 1, 2014. The city of Moore estimates there are 5,500 registered residential storm shelters in the city and approximately 23,000 residential properties in Moore. City Manager Stephen Eddy said he anticipates about 7,000 storm shelters after the 1,500 shelters funded by rebates are completed. The city has a population of around 57,000, Eddy said. He believes Moore may end up with more shelters per capita than any other city in the United States.

Storm shelter permitting also has been booming in Norman since the 2013 tornadoes. There have been 946 shelters permitted so far this calendar year with 293 permitted in April. Since June of 2013 through April of 2014 there have been 2,095 storm shelter permitted in Norman.

Construction would not account for all of the increase in taxes this month however, and city and county leaders expressed optimism that business is good in Cleveland County.

Norman’s sales tax is up nearly 11 percent this month — tax receipts from the Oklahoma Tax Commission totaled $5,185,524 for May. After deducting $740,788 for Public Safety Sales Tax, the receipts are $431,939 or 10.76 percent above last year’s receipts for the same time period.

“We had a very good month,” Norman Finance Director Anthony Francisco said. “This is sales from the month of March and there were five Saturdays in March. Saturdays are always a good shopping day, but mostly I think it was just a good month.”

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