Sales tax spurt brightens city budget picture

What recession?

Higher-than-expected property and sales tax collections led to a profitable January for the City of Eunice, according to the monthly statement of operations released this past week.

According to the compilation, the city had an operating profit for the month of almost $607,000.

Total revenue was approximately $1.5 million and expenses were about $923,000.

Sales tax collections were $532,000, about $156,000 above budget. and $70,000 above collections in January of last year.

Property taxes were $93,000 above budget, totaling $123,000 and the street tax produced $91,000, another $68,000 over budget. Totals in both categories in January 2008 were $110,000 and $81,000.

Tax rates did not change but property valuations increased in 2008, a quadrennial re-evaluation year, meaning the same tax rate yields more revenue.

On the spending side, only the Gas Department was over budget for the month. It was over budget by $94,000, because natural gas purchases were about $106,000 more than expected when the budget was adopted.

The rest of the departments were in the black.

That includes the Police Department, which due to cyclical spending is most often above budget until well into the fiscal year.

In January, the department spent $2,000 less than its $178,000 monthly budget. Its jail and prisoner expense was twice the $10,400 budget, continuing a trend that has not veered since July.

The Fire Department made budget by $8.88. Wage and salary expenses, running about 30 percent over budget, continue to eat up savings in other spending areas.

The bountiful January brought the operating surplus for the first seven months of the fiscal year to about $610,000 as major expenditures anticipated in the last part of the year approach. Those include the street overlay project now under way and continuing repairs at the wastewater plant.

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