Emerson revenues continue to decline
by Neil McGahee
Aug 27, 2013 | 1224 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Emerson City Council got some bad news from City Manager Kevin McBurnett at Monday’s meeting. Sales tax revenue has fallen more than 16 percent in the last two fiscal years.

“As you know, the local option sales tax (LOST) plays a vital part of our revenue stream in the city,” McBurnett said. “In fiscal year 2012 and 2013, we had an 8 percent decline in LOST revenues each year. While that number is a little staggering, we have collected our July payments for FY 2014, which we are in now, and the losses, more than 17 percent of LOST and more than 24 percent of the special local option sales tax (SPLOST), exceed the losses of the last two fiscal years.”

McBurnett said these represented huge numbers, and if they continue, the city would collect about $342,000 in FY 2014, nearly $60,000 less than budgeted.

He said there were several factors that contributed to the problem.

“The title ad valorem tax has changed the way we collect taxes on vehicles,” he said. “There is also an agricultural exemption that is causing the county great concern. We are receiving proceeds from the title ad valorem tax, but they are coupled now with property tax revenues. They aren’t part of the sales tax revenue.”

Sticking with a theme of frugality, McBurnett turned to trash collection.

In 2009, the city enacted an ordinance for the collection of yard trimmings, but recently, McBurnett said, examples of non-compliance had been found. Although there had been numerous complaints about the enforcement of the ordinance, it was, after all, a financial matter.

“If we continue to run the brush pickup as we did in the past, it will cost us $98 an hour for two employees to operate it,” McBurnett said. “Using the ordinance, which requires them to put it into piles that can be easily picked up by one person, the cost falls to $31 an hour.”

In other business, the council:

• recognized the Young Marines organization for fostering a drug-free lifestyle and declared Oct. 23-31 Red Ribbon Week and asked all citizens to wear a red ribbon in support of a drug free America.

• approved the sale of a surplus 2009 Ford Crown Victoria.

• discussed plans for a new movie, “Line of Sight,” to be filmed this fall.

• conducted a first reading for an ordinance establishing a hotel-motel revenue fund budget.

• approved the LakePoint south campus plan.