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EDMOND: Sales tax dip still nets 2nd best July on record

EDMOND: Sales tax dip still nets 2nd best July on record

James Coburn
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — The City of Edmond’s sales tax revenue received in July is the second highest volume on record. However, this sales tax revenue falls short of the 3 percent budget increase set by the City Council in May, said Ross VanderHamm, director of financial services.

“We’re at a 1.2-percent deficit,” VanderHamm said of comparing the month to the same period in 2008 when the city collected a record $2.236 million. This July’s collection is down to $2.209 million.

This figure measures the last half of May and the first half of June. And July represents the first month of the 2009-10 fiscal year for the city.

VanderHamm announced the figure Wednesday morning at the 2015 Transportation Task Force meeting. Task force members met to discuss unencumbered funds and additional bonding capacity from the 2000 Capital Improvements Sales Tax.

Mayor Patrice Douglas and Councilman David Miller had argued for a zero-growth option during the City Council’s budget. The City Council deliberately lowered sales tax growth expectations for next year to 3 percent. It pays to be conservative because debt must be covered for any money borrowed by the city, said Larry Stevens, city manager.

The city’s five-year budget plan assumes a a 5-percent growth rate each year for the following four years, VanderHamm said. Edmond’s sales tax rate is 7.75 percent, with 3.25 percent going to the city and 4.5 percent going to the state.

The budget also assumes that there’s not going to be any new projects of any kind added to the budget to pay for with available cash reserves, VanderHamm said. As of June 30, the Capital Improvements Fund had about $17.4 million in revenue available for debt service at 125-percent coverage, he added.

The city is required to have a reserve of $7 million, leaving a legal balance of $10.4 million available for new debt service including the principal, interest and coverage, VanderHamm explained.

VanderHamm said it’s critical to realize that the city’s five-year plan has only a $4.8 million reserve budgeted for fiscal year 2012-13. With this reserve amount, only $4.3 million per year is budgeted to absorb new debt service for a positive cash balance, VanderHamm said.

The potential bond amounts at 125 percent are as follows:

• $27.6 million for 10 years at 4 percent;

• $36.8 million for 15 years at 4.5 percent; and

• $42.8 million for 20 years at 5 percent.

The $42.8 million is a figure not exclusive only to the city’s transportation needs, Stevens said.

“It is important to remember that these numbers will change based on actual sales taxes received each month,” VanderHamm said, “as well as actual expenditures on current projects, assuming no change orders or added projects.”

Stevens said the 2008-09 fiscal year ended with 7-percent growth when compared to a 4.25 percent growth projection.

“We’ve been very fortunate in that regard and frankly it wouldn’t surprise us at all to be above 3 percent this (fiscal) year,” Stevens said.

Task force member Clay Coldiron said the task force must identify solutions to fund transportation needs because the city has “tapped out” the federal funding model.

Douglas said she’s learned by attending Association of Central Oklahoma Government meetings that some projects ranked through ACOG for federal dollars will fall out of the queue to be paid for by stimulus funding.

“We need to have the engineering ready to move forward for some of the projects we want to move up in queue,” Douglas said of capturing stimulus funding when it becomes available.

City of Edmond Traffic Planner Tom Minnick said federal discretionary grant funds (Tiger funds) remain available until Sept. 15. This grant money could help pay for an Intelligent Transportation System.

ITS is a fiber optic, wireless or hybrid communication system of monitoring road events and equipment in the field, data archiving and predicting traffic volume.

Stevens said the Kelly at-grade railroad crossing between 33rd Street and Memorial Road is the city’s top non-funded priority. Douglas officially filed, with U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin, a $20 million federal funding request.

Another road project on east Covell is a $10 million project yet to be funded by the city, VanderHamm said. Councilman Charles Lamb said the city needs to expedite the engineering process in order to be ready for stimulus funds, should they become available.

“That’s one of those things I call ‘low hanging fruit,’” said Gerald Wright, task force chairman.

“Clearly, we’re going to need more money for capital projects from some source,” Stevens said. “And really the only reason we have the numbers looking as positive as we do is because our sales tax has consistently exceeded projections.”

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