Green River Star -

By David Martin
Editor 

City reports lower tax revenue

Receipts average $75,000 below projections

 


The City of Green River might be forced to rethink their budget if sales tax revenues don’t increase.

The 2015-16 fiscal budget was set with the anticipation of $900,000 being received monthly in sales tax revenue from the state. However, according to Chris Meets, finance director for the city, the average sales tax revenue has fallen to approximately $825,000, $75,000 lower than the amount the budget was set at. The last time the sales tax receipt was over the projected amount needed was February, where the city received $950,000.

“This year concerns me,” Meets said.

While the city will receive a number of one time payments and other funds to help offset the budgetary shortfall, if sales tax receipts don’t improve, Meets worries the city may have to initiate some measures to ensure it doesn’t spend more than it has. Meets said some discussions were occurring amongst the city’s department heads regarding how they intend to work with possible funding scenarios. Meets said the city may need to find alternate sources of revenue or trim the budget if the situation doesn’t improve. Though, with those one-time sources of money, Meets believes the city has between four and six months to work with its numbers and see if the tax receipts will improve or not.

While some may wait for the Christmas shopping season to see if tax returns will increase, state economic reports remain grim in regards to oil. Meets said reports he’s read indicate an economic recovery isn’t being forecast in regards to oil, saying news of Halliburton making a second round of layoffs doesn’t bode well either. However, he admits new home construction in both Green River and Rock Springs continues and homes are being bought in both communities, admitting he isn’t sure where the money is coming from. Also, while the price of oil isn’t looking good at the moment, Meets said factors in the oil industry can change quickly and increase the value of oil, making accurate guesses into the commodity’s future difficult to make. A devaluation in oil has also impacted the Sweetwater County Government, which is expecting up to a $5 million decrease in revenue for the next fiscal year.

One City Council representative remains optimistic about the future. Councilwoman Lisa Maes said sudden jumps and drops in sales tax revenue are to be expected as some months don’t equate to great sales in the retail industry. Specifically mentioning January and Feburary, as well as October, she said she expects to see better returns from the summer and holiday shopping months. However, returns from June, the month the annual Flaming Gorge Days celebration occurs, still came in below average according to Meets.

Maes said the city could cut into spending for projects, but Meets claims the city doesn’t have a lot of money allocated for work projects outside of the U.P. Depot. Meets said much of the construction work going in within the city is being paid through grants or the Sixth Penny Tax.

 

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