Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Tulsa, OKC Working on Budget Cuts to Counter Faltering Sales Tax Revenues

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Tulsa, OKC Working on Budget Cuts to Counter Faltering Sales Tax Revenues

Article excerpt

Both Tulsa and Oklahoma City experienced a more than 11-percent drop in sales tax revenues for October compared with the same month in 2008, state Tax Commission figures show.

Because city operations rely so heavily on sales tax revenues, city officials are already planning compensatory budget cuts for January, halfway through a fiscal year that didn't look quite as dismal a few months ago.

"I've asked our departments to take a look at a 2-percent budget cut, and those have been submitted to the budget office and we'll be discussing that over the next several weeks," Oklahoma City Manager Jim Couch said. "It's not a single effort; it's a combination of all those efforts."

Tulsa officials said they're working on a 2.5-percent budget cut throughout the municipal government.

The slide began in January, when both cities saw their monthly sales tax checks from the state Tax Commission a little less than 1 percent larger than in January 2008. Given the economic downturn, the difference was expected, city officials said. But it was still a steep decline from December's year-over-year growth of 9.3 percent.

February's sales tax growth rate was about the same, still on the positive side of the growth line. In March, Oklahoma City's revenues were about 2 percent less than in March 2008, while Tulsa's growth was near zero.

Then the numbers turned nasty in April, May and June, and by July, Oklahoma City's sales revenues were 9.7 percent less than they were in July 2008; Tulsa's revenues dropped by 10.8 percent.

"What bothers me more than anything is that bump in August was false hope," Couch said, referring to a 5.6-percent, year-over-year decrease that looked almost cheery by comparison. "If that graph in August had continued back up, we would have been in pretty good shape."

Instead, sales tax revenues in Oklahoma City declined 12. …

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