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City Of Tulsa Sales Tax Collections Higher Than Estimated So Far In New Fiscal Year

Courtesy Gary Hamer
City of Tulsa Finance Department
A chart presented to the Tulsa City Council by the city's finance department showing budgeted vs. actual Improve Our Tulsa sales tax collections.

The first two months of the new fiscal year have yielded higher than expected sales tax revenue for the city of Tulsa.

"Right now, things are better than we had hoped," said Gary Hamer, grants and capital planning manager for the city's finance department, on a Tuesday virtual meeting of the Sales Tax Overview Committee (STOC).

"Still not where we would have been prior to COVID-19, but we're optimistic," Hamer said.

In an Aug. 17th memo to the Tulsa City Council, the finance department provided figures on the Improve Our Tulsa sales tax for July and August. July was projected to bring in about $6.74 million, but actually yielded about $6.9 million. August outperformed even higher: about $6.8 million in collections was budgeted, but the city collected about $7.26 million, an increase of about $450,000, or 6.6%.

Hamer said in the reworking of the FY 2020-2021 budget in the wake of the pandemic and leading up to its presentation in April, the finance department modeled their estimates on the economic downturn in 2008, "using that as a benchmark to reduce our sales tax budget estimates by the same average percentage decline during the two periods of highest impact."

"We adjusted those numbers down pretty considerably, actually," Hamer told the STOC. "We're still not meeting the numbers we would have met last year, but we're pretty significantly above our budget estimates."

Hamer told Public Radio Tulsa that it's possible the overperformance could be a result of consumers emerging from hunkering down during the pandemic.

"Pent up demand from the shutdown has been cited as one potential cause," he said. "It is good, but we have a long way to go."

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