Oklahoma City's monthly sales tax receipts missed expectations in November for the first time in 10 months, but collections are still well ahead of their expected pace for the year, according to city figures released Tuesday.
Sales tax revenue grew by 2.5 percent in Oklahoma City over the last month as compared to the same month last year, down by half of a percent from the city's target. Growth for the fiscal year to date is still above 8 percent, well beyond the 3 percent target.
“When it (the tax report) first came out, we were kind of disappointed because we'd had some great months,” city Budget Director Doug Dowler said. “But it's still positive, and it's not too far below target, so when you take it in concert with what we've already had, it doesn't seem too bad.”
The unexpected slight slowdown serves as a reminder as to why city officials continued to form budget projections based on 3 percent growth despite consistently strong numbers earlier in the year, Dowler said. Conditions are still ripe for a better-than-expected year, but a city's best few months aren't reflective of the entire year.
“They have a way of reverting back to their averages over time,” Dowler said.
Economists have previously said that the continued strong sales tax revenue growth for so many months — including a few with growth well into the double-digits — could be signs of a period of transformative growth for the overall local economy.
If the snapped winning streak and any other potential bumps in the road prove to be small, that could still be true. How the local economy responds after a slight slowdown can put the idea of transformative growth to the test.
“If this was just a little bit of a hiccup and we pick right back into that strong growth, then we really are in that transformative period,” Dowler said.
“It's really been an exceptional period. If it continues, then we know we're really kind of ratcheting up our growth to a new level than what we've experienced in the past.”
Overall, most economic indicators in Oklahoma have continued to be strong in recent months.
But despite the local signs, the state's economy still is at least somewhat at the mercy of larger issues like the looming fiscal cliff and European debt crisis.