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Sales tax revenues down but city budget still on track

Despite the lingering economy and poor consumer spending the city of Sunnyside is on track with its 2010 budget, the Sunnyside City Council was told last night.

Sunnyside Director of Finance and Administrative Services Byron Olson gave the council a snapshot of where the city was at this point of the year in terms of the budget.

Olson noted that expenditures were down in 2009, which helped account for a budget surplus at the end of last year. The city saved more than $700,000 in expenditures in 2009.

Some positives he pointed out for 2010 so far have been the implementation of a stormwater utility fee and the fact that the country might be pulling itself out of the recession.

Some negatives, he said, have been that the signs of recovery have been slow and the city's sales tax collection is behind at this point from where it was in 2009.

"I'm concerned about this," he said.

Revenue collection has been slow so far in 2010. The city's general fund revenues are at 20 percent as of March 31, 2010, compared to 24 percent a year ago. Sales tax revenue this year is at 22 percent, down from 24 percent in 2009. Utility taxes are down by more than 4 percent.

One reason sales taxes are down, Olson said, was the cost of gasoline. Last April the price of regular gas was $2.28 a gallon. The price today is more than $3.10 per gallon. Olson said for a 20 gallon tank this represents an increase of $14.20.

"People are still spending money, but they are spending it at the pump," he said.

This extra charge is keeping consumers from spending this money at restaurants and other businesses in town. Gasoline is not subject to the sales tax.

The city does have healthy reserves in its different funds, however. This could help absorb any shortfalls come the end of the year.

The picture Olson gave the council was just a snapshot at where the city is right now. Olson promised to keep the council updated on the budget situation on a quarterly basis.

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