The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

January 17, 2014

At halfway mark, city of Enid budget going as expected

ENID, Okla. — By Dale Denwalt

Staff Writer

The city has earned roughly half of its budgeted revenue through the month of December, according to figures presented to Enid City Commission.

This fiscal year, which ends in June, should bring in $34.1 million in sales tax alone, said Chief Financial Officer Jerald Gilbert.

So far since July 1, the city has earned more than $17 million in sales tax revenue. The figures do not include the bulk of holiday shopping or the opening of T.J. Maxx. Those figures were not available last week for the commission study session.

Sales tax revenue is higher overall by about 5.8 percent compared with this time last year, Gilbert told the commissioners.

“You can see we’re ahead in just about every category,” he said, noting revenue from utility payments has increased on the year.

Water service has raised $6.3 million and sewer use has earned $2.6 million.

One section of the budget that shows slower income, though, is residential trash.

“We looked at this specifically as to why we’re behind, and the answer we’ve determined is that when we have extra trash pickups, that revenue is credited to residential trash. We typically do a whole lot of that,” Gilbert said.

After an analysis, he found there were 246 more paid trash pickups on last year’s books.

“I think in our efforts to help clean up the city and be user friendly, we have not charged for as many trash pickups,” he said.

The city has budgeted $188.3 million in spending across all platforms and agencies this year. Not all of that money comes from sales tax revenue.

Actual spending is only about half that, though, because there still are major expenses waiting to be paid out. That includes incentive payments to Northstar Agri Industries for the construction of a canola plant, and the relocation of Southgate Road to make way for runway extension at Enid Woodring Regional Airport.

“When that comes to fruition, we’re going to see a spike in spending here in the budget,” Gilbert said.

Enid’s CFO also presented information about the city’s water bond debt, which by now mostly is accrued interest. Almost 30 years ago, the city levied bonds to raise $3.23 million. Enid now owes $18.7 million.

“It was a zero-coupon bond, which means we made no payments on it until last year,” Gilbert said. “And all that time, from 1987 to 2013, interest accrued on that at about 7 percent.”

The bond was set up so it could not be paid off early.

Some of the cost already has been paid from a city 1-percent sales tax question, and the city is about to make a second payment.

“After these payments, we’ll effectively have the whole 1-percent sales tax freed up for capital projects,” Gilbert said.

The final payment is in 2017.

“The good news on this, despite the staggering oddity of the numbers that we have a 30-year question mark behind, is that we almost have enough money in hand right now to pay off that debt, save the last year,” said City Manager Eric Benson.

After the annual checks to cover the bond interest is paid, the city can then earn the full amount from sales tax revenue.

“The budget process year after next, you’ll be looking at a looming $10 million largesse, if you will. Your ability to project progressive issues is at hand,” said Benson.

Over the next two decades, the 1-percent sales tax will grow to an estimated $16 million in revenue per year, which will generate almost a quarter of a billion dollars through the year 2034.

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