Citing a flourishing local economy and consumers embracing an initiative designed to boost local shopping endeavors, the City of Amarillo is in the midst of seven consecutive months of sales tax revenue increases compared to the previous year.
Officials said the latest reports reflect sales tax collections increased 6.03 percent in July, with an overall rise of 2.58 percent for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, in comparison to the same time frame last year. The boost translates to $1,183,000 toward the City’s general fund.
“The local economy is doing well and that is a big contributing factor,” Finance Director Laura Storrs said with regard to the uptick. “Additionally, last year sales tax revenue flattened and shortly thereafter the City, along with the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce initiated the Buy The Way campaign, which has helped greatly. The program encourages everyone to support our local merchants by patronizing the businesses here. We’re excited about the developments that last seven months and hope to build upon the momentum in the future.”
Officials said Buy the Way empowers local entrepreneurs, creates jobs to keep taxes low, contributes to a better quality of life and enhances local economic growth. The City has collected sales tax receipts totaling approximately 85 percent of the budgeted $55,563,044 for 2017-2018 with the months of August and September yet to be accounted, officials said, noting collections to date reflect sales receipts ending in May 2018.
Sales tax revenue, which officials said is the largest source (32 percent) of funding for the general fund, is generated from products and services offered by such venues as convenience marts, restaurants, bowling alleys, movie theatres and varied shopping outlets. The general fund provides for various city departments including Police, Fire, Emergency Management, Parks and Recreation and street operations, among others.
“The extra funds coming in this year are allocated for things for next year,” Storrs said. “And it aids us in the process of building next year’s budget. When revenues are up, it allows us to address operating expenditures, such as additional police officer or firefighters or parks initiatives. State law requires we have a balanced budget in which revenues cover expenditures through the general fund.”
Amarillo resident Chase Greenwood said keeping a local first mindset with regard to making purchases has become second nature since the advent of Buy the Way.
“When that campaign rolled out, everything just clicked for me,” he said. “When we make that concerted effort to turn dollars over several time within our community, it helps keep folks employed and could potentially help spur some manner of entrepreneurship. It’s nothing but a win for everybody here, so I’m glad to learn the sales tax numbers are on a continued rise.”
Amarillo Chamber of Commerce officials said more than 1,700 members provide products and services in practically every type of category while noting local merchant patronage is essential to the success and growth of local businesses. While acknowledging it is not practical to expect consumers to never shop online, the organization said it would like to raise awareness of the importance of what dollars spent locally do to increase local sales tax money that helps fund vital services while not raising local property taxes.