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Tax collections muscle through pandemic

By Vicky O. Misa | Vicky.misa@news-star.com | (405) 214-3962 | Twitter: @Vicky_NewsStar
The Shawnee News-Star

The last several months of tax collections appear to have bounced back to normal levels after a brief shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in the Spring.

Direct effects of the coronavirus shutdown caused a temporary lull, but recent sales tax collections in the area continue to hold steady.

Shawnee

Thanks to months of a tightened belt — first a 12.5 percent reduction now loosened to an 8.5 percent reduction — on its projected budget, the Shawnee city sales tax collection report for the end of the calendar year looks typical compared to years past.

Ashley Neel, finance director and city treasurer, reports the December sales tax deposit was $1,853,293.23, including interest of $1,355.99.

Sales and use tax collections totaled $2,078,749.63 for December 2020.

According to Neel's report, December 2019 sales tax receipts came in at $2,089,516 — $236,222 more than this year's collections for the month.

“It should be noted the current sales tax estimate for FY 20-21 is based on a 8.5 percent reduction compared to the prior year budget,” Neel said.

But, for the year, sales tax collections are up $1,683,141 or 16.64 percent, over the projected budget year-to-date, she said.

“Use tax collections are down approximately $11,301, or .91 percent, under the projected budget year-to-date,” she said.

Pottawatomie County received its first positive case of COVID-19 the last week of March, which spurred the start of added restrictions ordered by Gov. Kevin Stitt.

Area residents spent significant time avoiding public spaces as a direct result of a shelter-at-home directive from leaders starting mid-March, during April and into May.

As a result, revenue was down for a period while all non-essential businesses were closed until mid-May.

Education tax

Through a 0.495-cent Pottawatomie County sales tax increase for schools, backed by voters in November of 2015 and set to continue until June 30, 2026, schools have been collecting funds for four and a half years now.

The tax increase was proposed to achieve two things: a 0.49-cent portion –– projected to raise $3.7 million in revenue annually –– is being split between the county's 14 school districts, and the other portion of the tax — .005 cents — is being utilized for the construction, acquisition, maintenance and operation of the One Safe Place Family Justice Center. That amount of tax was estimated to bring in $165,000 to $175,000 per year.

Collections for the tax increase began July 1, 2016. For 2020, the total comes to $4,100,627.54. So far, the grand total of collections for schools since the tax started is $17,065,999.81.

A portion of the education sales tax collections goes to the Family Justice Center — the other .005 cents. This year, the FJC received $41,420.47 from the county sales tax. To date, the FJC has received $173,510.12 from county sales tax.

Pottawatomie County

For the year, Pottawatomie County's sales tax collections managed to hold onto a slight edge over revenue collected last year, despite the hit from this year's COVID-19 shutdown. However, this month, county revenue fell just short of last year's figures.

Pottawatomie County's sales tax collections for December show a decrease in revenue over December 2019. Treasurer Wendy Magnus reported this month's collections totaled $727,537.47, down from the same month a year ago when $738,143.56 was received –– a decrease of $10,606.09.

On average

According to an average from the past 10 years, collections have been coming in around:

• December — $640,750

• November — $645,100

• October — $672,550

• September — $665,000

• August — $658,700

• July — $639,500

• June — $624,150

• May — $636,950

• April — $626,400

• March — $590,950

• February — $723,750

• January — $666,000

Year-end

Overall totals for 2020 came in above last year, settling at $8,371,692.16. Comparing 2019's figures, which were $8,151,774.79, this year shows a slight increase of $219,917.37. Data from the past 10 years shows a steady rise in collections each year. In 2011, year-end collections showed a tally of $7,320,997.51.