The Edmond Sun

January 14, 2014

Tax revenue increase steady in Edmond

James Coburn
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Two years of strong sales tax growth brought the City Council to consider a 7 percent growth factor in the city’s budget for fiscal year 2014-15.

Council members met with city staff for a special workshop Monday afternoon. They also projected a 5 percent increase in the budget from FY15-16 until 2020. The budget projection is subject to revision before the next fiscal year begins July 1.

Sales tax is the city’s most critical source of revenue, said Larry Stevens, city manager.

“Our sales tax last year had a significant increase over the year before,” said Ross VanderHamm, city finance director.

Direct revenues for FY12-13 totaled $48.547 million, compared to $45.667 million in FY11-12. The city’s total revenues and transfers totaled $83.396 million in FY12-13 to exceed the $76.755 million in FY11-12, VanderHamm said.

Audited expenses show the city’s total expenditures and transfers was $81.8 million in FY12-13. So the city ended up with a surplus of $1.6 million from FY12-13 that carried over into FY13-14, VanderHamm said.

“That’s a positive thing and it has been stable for the last several years,” he said.

Sales tax receipts received for the General Fund for the first five months of FY13-14 ending in November is 45.6 percent of projected earnings, VanderHamm said.

These figures do not include the half-cent sales tax dedicated to fund the Public Safety Center. The city’s sales tax is 3.75 percent when including the half-cent dedicated sales tax for the Public Safety Center. It is added to the 4.50 percent state sales tax.

January’s check for the General Fund is $2.8 million, compared to $2.7 million last year for a 2.25 percent increase, making it the largest January check that the city has ever received, VanderHamm said.

A breakdown of top 20 sales tax North American Industrial Classification System Totals through November show general merchandise with a gain of 22.84 percent.

Building materials is a strong No. 2 with 16.45 percent growth, VanderHamm said. Building materials would have been in fourth or fifth place five years ago, he said.

“That’s obviously not just roof repairs. That’s a lot of residential growth and commercial growth and roof repairs as well,” VanderHamm said.

Restaurants and bars came in third place wit 13.9 percent growth, ahead of No. 4 grocery at 11.14 percent growth.

The first seven months of the current fiscal year is $1.8 million above budget. Police will currently see $667,000 more above budget, and the Fire Department will receive $544,000 in revenue above budget. VanderHamm said. The General Fund’s share is $602,000 more than budget.

“There is a balance of $582,000,” VanderHamm said.

If the city continues to receive 2 percent above budget for the next five months, it will generate a balance of $815,000 of money that has not been spent above the current budget.

City considers study of I-35 frontage roads

A short-term Capital Projects List has been made to show how the $815,000 may be spent, Stevens said. Most significant of the 14 items is $250,000 projected for a study of the Interstate 35 frontage roads.

“We’re talking about a long-term plan of development,” Stevens said.

Assistant City Manager Steve Commons said the current configuration of the corridors is not sufficient to meet the city’s long-term growth patterns based on areas that have already been zoned.

“The I-35 corridor is really the only place that we have for large commercial development,” Commons said.

Ramps on the corridor are not conducive for large volumes of traffic, he said. More commercial activity in those areas will increase the traffic congestion, Commons added.

“I think it’s time we take a comprehensive look at the whole corridor and say what’s it going to take when people approach us to change things out here?” Commons said. Ramp changes would involve the Federal Highway Administration.

“It’s a very long process that if we don’t start today — once we have a need — we’re probably already behind the curve,” Commons said.

I-35 frontage road connectivity is needed between Second Street and Danforth, he said. A study could examine the possibility of frontage roads extending to Waterloo, Commons said.

The conversation would need to involve private landowners, said Victoria Caldwell, city councilwoman.

“We need to come up with some sort of a plan to say, ‘You’re not going to be able to sell this property without some of these issues addressed,’” Commons said.

City Councilwoman Elizabeth Waner said the I-35 corridor study would be good use of extra dollars the city has this year.