Sales taxes down|Cities looking to tighten budgets

Published 5:27 am Monday, October 5, 2009

By By Lisa Tindell
news editor

New businesses are opening in both Brewton and East Brewton, and officials in both cities are hoping for a better year for sales tax revenue than the one that just ended.
Sales tax revenues dropped over the past year in Brewton and East Brewton, and those losses  have forced both cities to look at budgets and make some concessions when funding projects, services and even personnel.
In Brewton, meanwhile, sales tax for the year was flat, but the city saw losses in recent months. A cushion from a boost in revenue early in the year helped make up the deficit, officials said.
East Brewton’s council recently passed the city’s budget for the 2009-2010 fiscal year at $1.3 million in hopes of collecting nearly one-third of that amount through city sales tax.
During the past year, Clark said the loss of that revenue has forced the city to take steps they would rather not have to take.
Clark said the current state of the economy is to blame for the drop in tax revenue for the city. The hope for the fiscal year is that things will take a turn in an upward direction.
Although the City of Brewton wasn’t forced to cut employees, the budget is tight because of the change in tax revenues.
Jennings said the 10 percent cushion helped to keep the city’s coffers above water overall for the year.
Jennings said although the city’s budget is OK for now, some discussion may be coming that could see changes to how the city operates in the current fiscal year.
Jennings said he doesn’t anticipate any major changes in operations of the city this year, but that could change.
Jennings said some new businesses in Brewton may help a little but more help will be needed.
Jennings said he hopes to see a turnaround in finances after the first of the year.
Jennings said the city will be considering securing a loan to help carry the city until additional funds come into the coffers.
Jennings said currently planned projects will proceed since those projects are funded through grants and other sources. However, no new projects will be started by the city.
East Brewton and Brewton councils passed balanced budgets in September.

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