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Oklahoma City sales tax revenue lags behind other cities in metro

Oklahoma City has felt the brunt of the continued downturn in the energy industry, reflected in the sharp dip in sales tax revenues when compared to other metro-area municipalities. 

The city's sales tax revenue was down 7.7 percent in June from one year ago, and down a total 1.9 percent for the fiscal year ending June 30.

Oklahoma City has tightened spending and projects flat sales tax growth in the coming year, said Doug Dowler, budget director for Oklahoma City. 

"We were prepared for lower revenue, but this is worse than we expected," Dowler said. 

The city has instituted a hiring freeze and delayed opening a new fire station in southeast Oklahoma City because of lagging sales tax revenue. Oklahoma City's budget for the 2017 fiscal year includes eliminating 44 city jobs. 

The hiring freeze has meant there are 69 police and fire positions that remain unfilled, Dowler said. 

Oklahoma City's sales tax growth was one of the lowest compared to other cities in the Oklahoma City metro area and was the only one to decline over the fiscal year, according to a new city report released this week.

Most larger cities in Oklahoma reported drops in June sales tax collections, but still managed to
finish the year above last year, according to the report. 

Edmond's sales tax revenue was down 3.9 percent in June from the same month in 2015, but sales tax revenue grew 1.1 percent for the year, according to the Oklahoma City report.  

“With the current economy, anything ahead we were happy with,” said Casey Moore, public information officer for the city of Edmond. 

Because many energy industry workers live in Edmond, the city has not been insulated from low crude oil prices, Moore said.

Edmond also is projecting zero sales tax growth over the coming year.  

“It definitely affects us, because a lot of those people live in Edmond, people who many have lost their jobs,” he said. 

Moore was one of the few larger cities in the Oklahoma City metro that saw sales tax revenue increase significantly over the year. 

“I would say we are definitely a little more insulated than Oklahoma City, but we are all a part of the Oklahoma City metro,” Moore City Manager Steve Eddy said.

Moore's sales tax revenue was up 4.4 percent in June from one year ago. Sales tax revenue grew 6.3 percent over the year. 

“It was actually a little less from what we were projecting,” he said.  

Eddy said he attributes much of the city's sales tax revenue increase to a new Sam's Club that opened in 2015 off Interstate 35. 

Moore also projects flat sales tax revenue in the coming year, he said.

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Brianna Bailey

Brianna Bailey joined The Oklahoman in January 2013 as a business writer. During her time at The Oklahoman, she has walked across Oklahoma City twice, once north-to-south down Western Avenue, and once east-to-west, tracing the old U.S. Route 66.... Read more ›