Sales tax revenue declines sharply, new parks master plan

Bike Trail Map

by A.C. Hall

At their April meeting, the White Settlement Economic Development Corporation received an update about the half cent sales tax revenue that funds their yearly budget.  After thirteen straight months of sales tax revenue that came in above estimates, both March and April saw steep declines for the sales tax revenue.  The March revenue was 18 percent below expectations, but it was April’s 38 percent shortfall that Finance Director Phil Bray focused on.
“There’s not been a month this low in over ten years,” Bray said.
The number is so far below projections that Bray is looking into possible explanations.
“I’m hoping that maybe someone didn’t make their payment on time,” Bray said.  “It’s hard for me to believe that sales taxes have just dropped that much.  The economy doesn’t seem to be that bad.”
Bray told the EDC that he’s requested some reports from the State that should help him better understand what caused the huge dropoff in the April sales tax revenues.
Parks and Recreation Director Rich Tharp presented this item to the EDC as the first step of establishing a new parks recreation and open space master plan has been completed.  The previous parks master plan was adopted in 2008, and Tharp said over half of the priorities presented in that plan have been achieved.  He said these master plans “provide a clear vision, define a course of action, and better focus the city’s time and resources that are spent on parks and recreation.”
The first draft of the new plan has been in development for a year as Tharp has worked with the Parks and Recreation board to put it together.  With the draft complete, Tharp presented it to EDC for their input as they will help shape it moving forward.
One of the high priorities in the new plan is a bike trail system.  Tharp stated that this has been a high priority for citizens for many years now, and this new plan will focus on making it a reality.  Plans were laid out not only for bike paths leading to and connecting local parks, but also for Lockheed workers to use to get to Lockheed if they wish to bike to work.
Most of the parks in the city also have minor updates and improvements set for the first three years of the plan.
EDC board members will review this draft of the new parks master plan and will discuss it further at their next meeting.