The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

October 19, 2012

Joplin chalks up record sales tax year; city officials predict decline next year

By Debby Woodin

— Joplin’s sales tax proceeds hit a record peak despite predictions that they could reach a new low as a result of the 2011 tornado damage.

The 1-cent tax for the city’s general fund exceeded the previous high-water marks by more than $500,000, amounting to a total of $12,875,335 for the city’s current fiscal year. That exceeds the $12,297,228 for last fiscal year by about $578,000, and tops the previous highest total of $12,340,487 in 2008.

The $12,875,335 total represents “the biggest year we’ve ever seen, but I think that’s to be expected with the rebuilding going on,” said Leslie Jones, the city’s finance director. “We do not expect future years to be like that, and the last four months have been coming down.” Collections for the past four months were down about $265,000 from a year ago.

City officials set the budget estimate for collections this fiscal year at $11,191,000, a 1 percent decrease over the previous year, believing that a post-tornado boost from rebuilding and visiting volunteers could play out.

City Manager Mark Rohr, in submitting his 2013 budget, projects that downturn for 2013. The upcoming fiscal year of sales tax proceeds is budgeted at $12 million.

“The post-tornado spike in sales-tax revenue growth has made it difficult to develop meaningful trends to predict these revenues,” he wrote in his letter of transmittal of the proposed budget to the City Council. “I have utilized projections at a level slightly more than the baseline year of 2010 for this document. Research on other communities experiencing similar disasters and consultations with those involved in the local retail industry suggest a leveling off of the revenue spike.”

The tax provides 10 percent of the city’s general fund revenue, with the city’s additional sales taxes providing a total making up about another 17 percent. Those are the transportation sales tax and the public safety sales tax, each budgeted at 5.4 percent; the capital projects sales tax, 4.1 percent; and the parks and stormwater sales tax, 2.7 percent.

Tax collections

In addition to the general fund, Joplin’s other sales tax proceeds for the fiscal year:

Half-cent public safety tax — $6,425,980, up about $285,000.

Half-cent transportation sales tax — $6,437,659, up about $285,000.

Quarter-cent parks and stormwater tax — $3,214,114, up about $140,000.

Three-eighths cent capital projects tax — $4,821,901, up about $220,000.