City Sales Tax Collections Still Trending Up, But Not At Pre-Pandemic Levels

Sep 24, 2020

City of Tulsa sales tax collections are trending upward, though still not quite recovered to pre-pandemic levels.

City Controller Norman Kildow told a virtual meeting of the city's audit committee on Thursday that this fiscal year, which began July 1, collections are roughly $1.7 million over projection. But, he noted, the budget projections were altered downward as COVID-19 hit and analysts forecast a significant decrease in sales tax revenue.

"Now, on the surface you think that's good news, however, back in March, when we had to redo our revenue collections projections, we took the worst-case scenario," Kildow said.

Still, things are moving in the right direction, Kildow said.

"We're hoping those trends continue. If they do, we would be on track for discontinuing furloughs for the approximately 1,000 employees who furlough four hours a week through December," Kildow said.

In an email, mayoral spokesperson Michelle Brooks suggested it may be too early to predict whether the furloughs will continue past December, the month Mayor G.T. Bynum said they would be reconsidered when he announced them in April. They were estimated to save the city $4 million, Bynum said.

"We have been following the projections and our estimates closely and while they have improved since earlier this year, we are still in the midst of a worldwide pandemic and are remaining prudent in our budgetary decisions," Brooks said. "Sales tax and other major general fund revenue sources including franchise taxes and fines remain below the same period last year."

"It should also be noted that our budget is only balanced, with furloughs and the hiring freeze, by committing several million dollars in non-recurring fund balances and reserves. All of these items will be taken into account by Mayor Bynum before deciding to roll back any of the measures that were required to balance the FY21 budget," Brooks said.

The furloughs have meant that many municipal offices close in the early afternoon on Fridays.