2011-02-25 / Community

Sales tax revenue sees slight uptick

By Carissa Marsh

The city’s third-quarter 2010 sales tax revenue is in and the numbers seem to indicate the local economy is growing.

According to a report compiled by the city’s property and sales tax consultant, the HdL Companies, July through September sales in Simi Valley rose 1.4 percent over the same period in 2009.

Although the data represents local purchases made last summer, the city didn’t receive all the receipts until December.

Taxable sales for all of Ventura County and Southern California were up 3.2 percent and 4 percent, respectively, for that same summer period.

While the quarterly sales increase in Simi trailed that of other areas, the numbers do give city officials reason to be optimistic.

Still, Assistant City Manager Laura Behjan cautioned against drawing too many conclusions from either the third- quarter numbers or the fact that the city was trailing the county and the region.

“ This is just for a threemonth period of time,” she said. “You will see as you look at this data over a (longer) period of time there can be quarters where we might trail and other quarters where we might look better.”

In addition, she said, adjustments may be made that can skew the data positively or negatively: A business may overpay or underpay, for instance, or may neglect to get its sales tax reports in on time.

These were the types of adjustments that caused a spike in the business and industry group and also exaggerated the decline in building materials sales.

A loss in new auto sales— Simi Valley Chrysler Jeep only sells used cars now—exacerbated already low returns in autos and transportation as a whole, the report said.

The report shows an increase in sales activity at electronics and appliance stores and in home furnishings. In addition, higher prices boosted sales at gas stations at discount department store locations, and a new eatery—Larsen’s Grill— contributed to a gain in the restaurant category.

After looking at the numbers, Behjan said, she sees the local retail market showing signs of improvement.

“We’re starting to see a bit of an uptick in sales in the community so those are all good things for the local economy.”

The city will continue to follow sales tax trends, Behjan said, to enable the city to make accurate budget projections and ensure it can deliver the services promised to residents.

So far the trends look good. Taxable sales from April through September 2010 were up by 3.6 percent from the previous year.

Behjan said these results exceeded the city’s budget projections for the first half of the 2010- 11 fiscal year by $222,000. The total projected sales budget for the fiscal year is $13.6 million.

“We’re happy with that. We would have been happy to just hold to our projections, so to be doing better than our projections is good,” she said.

On Feb. 28, city staff will present a midyear financial report to the City Council that discusses the status of all revenue categories and expenditures and the budgetary outlook for the remainder of the fiscal year.

Behjan said the report will show the city is looking healthy overall—better than it has at this time in recent years.

And there’s more good news: She doesn’t anticipate the council will be called to make any additional cuts to keep the budget on track.

“We’ll be going into the midyear with no specific reductions or adjustments that will be needed in the budget. The revenues will be meeting projections, and expenditures will continue to be held down as much as possible by the departments,” she said. “It’s a more stable picture than we’ve had over the past couple of years.”

In a Nutshell

Simi’s Top 25 sales tax producers

(in alphabetical order)
Apple Computer
Arco AM PM
(two locations)
Best Buy
Bunnin Buick Pontiac
California Virtual
Exxon Mobil
First Honda
First Nissan Kia
Ford of Simi Valley
Home Depot
McBain Systems
Milgard Manufacturing
Simi Recreational
Vehicles Sales
Toyota Towne
Yosemite Shell

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