City sees sales tax revenue boost

A recovering economy and the openings of new businesses along Foothill Boulevard were credited this week by officials for a boost of nearly 16% in sales tax revenue to the city during the first half of its fiscal year.

“I think broadly more people are comfortable spending money when the economy seems to be getting better on the macro level, and on the micro level, we do have a lot more retail development along Foothill Boulevard,” said Daniel Jordan, the city’s director of finance.

The city’s fiscal year runs July 1 to June 30. Jordan told the La Cañada City Council Tuesday that while the early results are good, and could well change by June, the numbers were definitely a boon for the city.

“City sales tax revenue is at a new peak as we recover from the recession, and is actually higher than the pre-recession peak year,” Jordan said. “I think that’s probably due in large part to the addition and improvement of the boulevard and new businesses.”

Jordan said that the city’s sales tax revenue in the first half of the year was up 15.8% year to date. Thus far, the city has taken in $598,000, versus $516,000 at this point last year.

Jordan said the incoming Sprouts Farmers Market and the Town Center development are examples of retail space poised to bring in even more sales tax revenue.

Pat Anderson, president of the La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce, said that it was gratifying to see the city’s and the chamber’s work to encourage local businesses succeeding.

“I believe that it is a true partnership with the chamber and the city to foster the idea that we need to keep local shopping local,” she said.

Jordan said that the city had received a large “true-up” payment from the state, a sign that the city was outperforming expectations.

“Most of the payments you get through the year are advances from the state based on estimations,” he said. “So a large true-up payment is a sign that there is strength that is exceeding the state’s projections.”

While the $80,000 difference over last year might seem small compared to the $11 million general fund budget, Jordan said that the city is expecting more than $2 million in overall sales tax revenue this year, which is the city’s second largest revenue source, behind property taxes, which are expected to bring the city approximately $3.74 million this fiscal year.

Jordan added that the city still has room to grow, as when accounting for inflation, this year’s growth still probably did not match the recent peak in 2007-08; but “nevertheless, it’s just good to have more money in nominal terms.”

Anderson said she agreed that there is still room for improvement.

“I definitely believe that retail along the boulevard is picking up, but I caution that … there’s still a long way to go,” she said. “But it’s very encouraging to hear that we’re moving the right direction.”

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