The latest “Trend Buster” sales tax report; policy retention premiums counted as income | News
The honeymoon looks at least over for Normandy sales tax revenue, officials say.
Norman’s sales tax revenue in January was up 4.67% from January 2021, according to the March sales tax receipt. This is a significant decline from reported revenue growth of 20% in the 12 months to February 2022.
“[This] would be generally good, but based on the trend we’ve had this year, it was a trend reversal,” Fransisco told the city’s finance committee on Thursday.
The trend leading up to January was part of a larger trend in sales taxes in Oklahoma cities that Oklahoma City University economics professor Russell Evans called “high sugar.” significant increases in sales tax over the months of the previous year.
Francisco attributed the high sales tax receipts to stimulus payments, ongoing construction in the city and residents doing activities outside the home following quarantines and social distancing due to COVID-19.
Francisco praised city officials for not stressing recurring spending during the high sales tax “bubble.”
Although the city did not incur new recurring expenditures, the influx of sales taxes allowed it to undertake projects such as the transit maintenance facility. It also sparked talk of using surplus revenue to give signing bonuses to new police recruits — Oklahoma City pays its new cops a $5,500 signing bonus.
City Manager Darrel Pyle said Thursday that city officials are leaning more toward a “retention bonus” for firefighters and officers.
“When you think of some of your sworn staff who have been with us through the ups and downs and COVID and everything has been with us, to reward someone who may have lived on the beach during those more tenuous times, show up and, ‘Here’s a bonus, go buy a new jet ski’ would definitely not be favorable,” Pyle said.
But Pyle also said the city has beefed up its recruiting process to publicize Norman through social media and conversations with potential recruits. He discussed promoting messages of professionalism, quality of life and affordability to attract police officers from across Norman.
Pyle also said the benefits of working for a city could be a selling point for recruiting.
“I like to say to kids who are thinking about their career path, and I’m talking about the city, and I’m saying, ‘Cities don’t go broke,'” Francisco said.