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Tax revenue down for Lebanon again
Feb 16, 2007 12:00 am
Sales tax revenues for Lebanon continued to decline, according to a recent Tennessee Department of Revenue report.
December collections for the city were $882,394, down from December 2005, when the city took in $1,035,366. While the city plans for a 6 percent growth from year to year, the numbers for December show a 14.8 percent decrease.
The city has faced flat growth and a decline in tax figures recently and the city council passed a resolution Feb. 6 calling for managers to operate under a "minimum essential" doctrine when spending money.
The resolution also requires council approval for certain travel by city employees and implements a freeze on capital-building projects. It also continued the hiring freeze announced by Mayor Don Fox late last month.
Other cities in Wilson County fared better during the Christmas season, with Watertown posting a 9.4 percent increase over 2005 and Mt. Juliet more than doubling their tax receipts, with an increase of 144.7 percent. The three cities, plus the unincorporated sections of the county, combined for 8.5 percent growth in December.
Thus far through the fiscal year, which ends in June, Lebanon's receipts are down 2.2 percent.
Lebanon Finance Commissioner Hal Bittinger said the December figures were "bad news." He said that it was important to note that the last four months of 2006 in which the city saw flat sales-tax growth or declines were being compared against those same months in 2005, which he characterized as "high-growth months" which had shown between 21 and 46 percent growth as compared to 2004.
Bittinger said the city's budget surplus, which began the fiscal year at $535,000, was $499,000 through January. He said, though, there was no need for panic, as there have been "no real budget surprises" during the year, except for the declining tax receipts.
In the previous fiscal year, the city had to face "large unexpected expenditures" such as rising gas prices. The commissioner said there were no similar expenditures facing the city thus far this year.
He said he was "sure" the city council would meet to discuss the new numbers, but that the city was not in danger of becoming insolvent.
"I would expect us, even with the poor sales tax performance, to break even [for the year] or even end up with a $100,000 or $200,000 surplus," he said.