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City looks at flat '99 sales-tax revenues

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by Karen E. Culp

SBJ Staff

City officials say they are not going to overreact to flat city sales-tax revenues.

"It appears as though the good years are not as good as they once were, and the bad years are worse, but we're still not in a negative situation with our revenue. Our revenue is not less but flat," said Tom Finnie, city manager.

Fred Fantauzzi, director of Finance for the city, said the sales tax revenues are "fairly flat this year," and that the city is projecting a 1 percent increase over last fiscal year in its sales-tax revenues. The fiscal year ends June 30, and "two good checks," one in May and one in June, could make a difference in what the year's overall increase will be, Fantauzzi said.

"We will make budget. We've been trying to average an increase of 3 percent year over year, and that is what we're reflecting in the budget," Fantauzzi said.

Fiscal year 1998 saw a sales tax revenue increase of 7 percent, and in previous years the increase has been even higher, though Fantauzzi said the average increase over the past 20 years has been 6 percent.

The city is considering taking a more in-depth look at its sales tax revenues, possibly enlisting the help of some of the local colleges. But for now, the city simply has to make sure it is encouraging the full range of businesses who collect sales tax to increase their business, and providing adequate support for those businesses, Finnie said.

The flattening of sales-tax revenues in Springfield has been attributed to retail growth in the cities immediately outside Springfield in the past, and Fantauzzi said he believes retail developments such as a new Wal-Mart Supercenter in Nixa "hurt us somewhat." Mike MacPherson, city administrator for Nixa, said the city anticipates a healthy spike in its sales tax revenues this year.

"We have tremendous growth going on in terms of the number of new businesses coming into town. We've already reached the level of growth we had last year, and we'll surpass that by a great deal this year," MacPherson said.

Nixa operates on the calendar year while Springfield is on a July-June fiscal year. Nixa's sales tax revenues had "been pretty well flat" until 1997, when retail growth began catching up with the city's population growth. In 1997, the city added 13 new businesses, and it added 22 in 1998. Through March 1999, the city has added 14 new businesses.

"This year we're going to see a real spike in revenues. We're predicting between a 20 and 35 percent increase in sales tax revenue," MacPherson said.

Wal-Mart officials say they expect to generate about $600,000 per year in sales tax for the city, MacPherson said.

"That's really been the big turnaround. Now people can buy things in Nixa they had to go to Springfield for before: shoes, clothing, other dry goods. Now you don't really have to drive to Springfield for anything[[In-content Ad]]

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