Residents, businesses and visitors in Oklahoma City spent more money last year, boosting the city's sales tax revenue.
Tax revenue dipped sharply in fiscal year 2010 to a little more than $324 million as the recession hit Oklahoma City, city figures show. But it jumped by more than 12 percent in fiscal year 2011, which ended last month, putting more than $364 million into the city budget.
The jump is about 4 percent above revenue in fiscal year 2009, the last year before the recession hit. It's a step in the right direction, even if it doesn't mean Oklahoma City has bounced all the way back quite yet, city budget director Craig Freeman said.
“It's definitely better than what we had anticipated,” Freeman said. “But it doesn't put us back on course for where we would have been if we had normal growth (in 2010).”
The jump also has benefited MAPS 3, with actual revenue exceeding projections by about 8 percent so far. Since April 2010, the city has raised more than $94 million of the estimated $777 million needed for the eight MAPS 3 projects.
But the big jump in the last fiscal year can be attributed at least partly to bad news: the devastating May 2010 hailstorm that pummeled Oklahoma City but left much of the rest of the metro area unscathed.
The storm's role in the sales tax growth rate partly can explain the wide gap between other cities' revenue gains and Oklahoma City's. Tulsa's sales tax growth was just 2.5 percent last fiscal year, along with about 4.6 percent in Norman, 4.2 percent in Moore, 3.7 percent in Yukon, and 3.6 percent in Edmond and Midwest City, according to the state Tax Commission.
Another factor in Oklahoma City's growth is a jump in large-scale construction projects, notably the Devon tower downtown and other energy company investments, according to a city manager's report.
“The Devon tower, all the construction that's been going on with Chesapeake and SandRidge, those have been some really big projects that have boosted growth,” Freeman said.
Officials expect growth of about 4 percent in fiscal year 2012, Freeman said.
Four percent is what economists consider normal growth, he said.