Declining Retail Sales Affect Government Budgets

By: Lindsey Brown Email
By: Lindsey Brown Email

The national recession is definitely beginning to have an impact on retail sales here in Meridian.

City sales tax revenues have been down significantly over the last three months. In all, about collections are about $130,000 lower during this summer than the summer of 2008.

Here are the summer 2009 numbers:
May -$41,343
June -$55,849
July -$38,894
Total -$136,086

With the bad economy, it seems that shoppers are just not buying as much as they once did. Wants and needs are two different things

"Find stuff in your life, find things you don't have to have and do without those things," advised Meridian shopper Sonya Evans.

And it turns out more and more people are practicing Evans' view.

With the numbers calculated, Meridian's chief financial officer, Ed Skipper, says the city is about 1.5% down in sales tax collections from this time a year ago. And while that may not sound like much...

"Our sales tax last year was a little over $14 million, so when you have the percentages, it is significant when you look at a total budget because every dollar is important," Skipper said.

But Skipper is trying to keep everything in perspective. Meridian is faring exceptionally well, compared to many other communities. With that said, efforts are being made to plan for the future, even though no one knows what to expect from the economy.

"This is a guessing game to some degree. The budget that went to council was very conservative," said Skipper. "There was no pay raise, little equipment. It is more of a trying to hold in place kind of budget. When people are not spending as much, construction is down. There are some related smaller revenues that are down, privilege licenses or building permits. So it isn't just one revenue, but several we have to look at."

Skipper does point to two factors that have protected Meridian in the past, and he says he hopes they will continue to do so. One is that Meridian has a diverse economy that has prevented sharp decreases in the past. Second, he says match that with easy access from the interstate. Skipper said he believes our community will bounce back.

But Sonya Evans plans to continue playing it safe with her money.

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