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SALES TAX REVENUES UP: Latest financial report shows modest gain, contradicts city manager

Nearly 1% increase, but "severe revenue problem"
 
COLUMBIA, Mo 8/17/18 (Beat Byte) -- Sales tax collections are up modestly this year, according to the City of Columbia's latest financial report

The jump contradicts city manager Mike Matthes' yearly declaration that Internet sales are decreasing sales tax revenues. 

Released last month, City Hall's 9-month Interim financial report showed sales tax revenue of $16,540,196 as of Jun 30, 2018, an increase of $158,659 or nearly one percent compared to the same time last year.  The city had collected $16,381,537 in sales taxes as of June 30, 2017. 

"The number in the Interim Financial Report (which are actual sales, not projected sales) does show an increase of $158,659," city finance director Michele Nix told the Heart Beat. "This is money collected from October 1 through June 30."  

She added, however, that sales taxes are actually down nearly three percent and that a "system glitch" caused the Missouri Department of Revenue to send "an unexpected payment of $2,310,158" to the city. The financial reports do not mention nor account for this payment. 
 
Eagerly seeking new and higher property taxes, Matthes has said sales tax revenues are declining for years.  He predicts two percent losses this year and in 2019. 

"Continued loss of sales tax creates a severe revenue problem," he told the Columbia City Council in a Council Budget Work Session presentation Monday. "Columbia has a very low property tax rate compared to other Missouri cities." 

Sales taxes aren't the only revenue on the upswing.  Other tax collections have also risen since last year, according to the same report.  As of Jun 30, 2018, City Hall had collected $8,985,799 in taxes from other sources, a  $556,421 or 6.6% increase over June 30, 2017, when that figure was $8,429,378. 

But Matthes told the Council Monday that "other revenue sources are down."  He cited "taxes from telephones trending downward, as people move away from hardwired phones." 

Total revenues -- taxes, fees, fines, etc. -- for the General Fund, which pays for fire, police, and other critical city services, are up more than most people's budgets.  The General Fund has increased $2,352,431 or 4.2% since last year: 

Total General Fund Revenue as of Jun 30, 2018:  $57,719,946
Total General Fund Revenue as of Jun 30, 2017:  $55,367,515

Nonetheless, Matthes warned Council members the city would have to implement his "strategic plan" for community policing and city-wide equity "in an era of no revenue growth." 
 
City financial statements since Matthes took office in 2011 contradict his claims about falling sales tax revenues. Other than a 0.002% decline in 2016, sales tax revenues have increased an average 3.5%City of Columbia Audited Financial report these tax and fee figures. 
 
2016

TOTAL TAX revenue decreased .5% (1/2%)

SALES TAX revenue decreased 0.0019% ($8,948 out of $47.2 million)

FEE revenue INCREASED 5.7%


2015

TOTAL tax revenue INCREASED 2%

SALES tax revenue INCREASED 3.2%

FEE revenue INCREASED 0.3%


2014

TOTAL tax revenue INCREASED 3.7%

SALES tax revenue INCREASED 3.6%

FEE revenue INCREASED 2.6%


2013

TOTAL tax revenue INCREASED 3.5%

SALES tax revenue INCREASED 3.8%

FEE revenue INCREASED 3%


2012
 
TOTAL tax revenue INCREASED 3%

SALES tax revenue INCREASED 4.9%

FEE revenue INCREASED 0.3%
 
 
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