MPEC study update and sales tax revenue decline

MPEC study update and sales tax revenue decline

Wichita Falls city officials met for the annual Planning Workshop today where they discussed various topics including the MPEC operational study.

Deputy City Manager Jim Dockery said the $75,000 total amount spent on the study has been worth it, and the consulting firm’s analysis shows the building's condition is overall in good shape, adding the main concerns are cosmetic and maintenance issues.

Another hot topic discussed today was the decline in sales tax revenue, one of Wichita Falls’ largest revenue sources for the city's general fund.
The city relies on this tax to meet budget requirements for the police and fire departments, infrastructure systems and administration programs.

However, the first quarter of the fiscal year's numbers show the city is seeing a decline in the money that is coming in.

            “We're seeing about a 4.5% decline from last year in sales tax performance,” said Jim Dockery.

He said the shortfall is due to minimal retail spending and fewer sales in commercial commodities in the city, adding this is a major financial concern for the city. 

With lowering fuel prices, city officials had planned for more spending and a 2% growth in the budget from last year, but this is not the case.

            “We thought the public would use the savings from their fuel budget and spend it on areas that we do receive sales tax on,” said Dockery.

If the city remains at the negative levels for the rest of the fiscal year there could be a $1,000,000 shortfall in revenue in the city's general fund.

            Dockery said the city would have to make some hard decisions on the expenditure side this year.

This includes possible cut backs in the budget, holding off on hiring vacant positions in order to save in the staffing department and perhaps looking at service level reductions for a period of time.

            “We don't want to end the fiscal year in an upside down situation where we brought in less money than we spent,” said Dockery.

The $1,000,000 loss due to the sales tax revenue is just a small amount of the more than $22,000,000 grand total preliminary sales tax budget for this fiscal year.

Officials with the city did say they could purchase sales tax trend software that would allow them to find out why the sales tax revenue is so low and where the shortfall is coming from.

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