EDMOND — Officials are calling this year's sales tax growth “unprecedented” as they begin building a budget for the next fiscal year, which begins in July.
For the first seven months of the fiscal year, Edmond has had a 19.31 percent sales tax revenue growth when compared to the previous one. Edmond has received $35,921,986 in sales tax revenue.
Edmond officials calculated a 3 percent growth in this year's budget.
Council members met in a workshop this week to start discussions on how to calculate the new budget.
Ross VanderHamm, city finance director and city clerk, suggested figuring next year's budget by using the figures from the 2011-2012 fiscal year because sales tax collections were more realistic.
The additional sales tax collections this year have been attributed to the large number of roof repairs following a summer hailstorm and several one-time large purchases. Officials don't think that rate of sales tax will continue now that most of the roofs have been repaired.
VanderHamm suggested using the previous year's sales tax returns with a 6 percent growth in next year's budget. He said the city could actually end up with a 10.76 percent growth for this year.
“This would be more actual information,” VanderHamm said. “Part of the problem, I am extremely conservative and that is not fair to the departments. I want to be as realistic as we can be, but want to be conservative.”
VanderHamm calculated that from the first seven months of this fiscal year the city has an additional $858,000 to spend. He asked if council members wanted to save the money to build up the reserve budget or spend it on projects that were not included in this year's budget.
Emergency design work and construction of repairs for Sooner bridge, which was shut down in September due to deterioration of the supports, was one suggestion made by VanderHamm. The cost is expected to be $297,292.
A second suggestion was to pay $400,000 for the move and temporary home for the employees of the administration building where the public safety center will be built.
There would be $161,000 left, VanderHamm said.
“We don't have a shortfall of projects,” he said.
Mayor Charles Lamb said he could advocate spending more than $2 million that is annually budgeted for road repairs.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Waner said she is interested in having money available to assist with a public-private project to create a multipurpose trail from Mercy Health Edmond, south of 15th Street, to the north and east to Arcadia Lake.
Councilwoman Victoria Caldwell said she would like to see the reserve fund increased. She said she wanted to wait before spending the money.
“I don't want us to look at it like a penny burning a hole in our pocket,” Caldwell said.
City staff members will come up with a list of projects that could be completed if there is additional money.
“We are just getting started,” VanderHamm said. “It is critical that people understand that we take this serious.”