Declining sales tax a concern for city

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By A.C. Hall

Meeting at the end of January, the White Settlement EDC discussed several new businesses and also declining sales tax revenues.  Economic Development Director Jim Ryan gave an update on new businesses that will soon be coming to White Settlement.

Permits have been issued for Seattle’s Best Coffee, a standalone coffee business that is owned by Starbucks.  It will be located on Alta Mere and will serve coffee and pastries.

The old Big Lots building will soon be known as Flight Deck.  This trampoline park expects to serve eight to ten thousand customers a month, and the building is being renovated to prepare for the new business.  “They’re planning to invest about a million dollars or so in the operation,” Ryan said.

The company will have around fifty part time workers, and they’ve pledged to try to hire WSISD students who are looking for jobs.  Ryan stated that he’s already spoken with the WSISD school board about this upcoming employment opportunity for their students.

The Region 11 Education Service Center is now officially coming to the old Sam’s building on Cherry Lane as reported in 2012 by The Grizzly Detail Newspaper.

“It’s a done deal,” Ryan said.

This new arrival in the City is expected to be a big boost to the Cherry Lane area as educators come to train at the facility.

The Weir SPM National Headquarters Building is complete and the company is moving in.  This too is being hailed as a major event for White Settlement.

“It’s probably the biggest thing that’s happened to this town in years,” Ryan said.

The building is built to be very energy efficient, and also has state of the art sound proofing.


Sales tax revenues 

Finance Director Phil Bray gave the monthly EDC financial report, and once again the news wasn’t good when it comes to the amount of sales tax revenue that is coming in.

“Declining sales taxes is a concern and a consideration for the future,” Bray told the EDC.

EDC sales tax revenues were down 25 percent in November, 39 percent in December, and the preliminary number for January is down 35 percent.

Mayor Jerry Burns asked Bray for a projection on where the number will be at the end of the year.  The budget projects $1.6 million in sales tax revenue, but Bray said that conservatively it appears the actual number will be around $432,000 less than that.

Ryan stated that staff is working to limit expenditures and cut back on things, such as putting the purchase of an $18,000 vehicle on hold.

“If the money’s not coming in, the money’s not going to be spent,” Ryan said.

Ryan also spoke briefly about new businesses and other things that could lead to higher sales tax revenues in the coming months.


Parks Business

Parks and Recreation Director Rich Tharp addressed the EDC next, giving a brief update on a few upcoming events.  The first two Saturdays in March will see free boating happening at Veterans Park.  Tharp also mentioned the annual Easter event, which will take place at Veteran’s Park in late March.  The city expects to hide around 120,000 eggs at the event.

In other parks business, the EDC unanimously approved a bid from Mean Green for a mowing contract.  The cost for the year is $49,350, and includes mowing for areas of Veteran’s, Central and Saddle Hills Parks.


Executive Session

The EDC met in a closed door executive session to discuss the sale, lease, or acquisition of real estate.  When they returned to open session, a motion was unanimously passed to allow staff to proceed with negotiations.  No further information on this item was available at this time.