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070318-council-meeting

Santa Maria City Council members Michael Moats, left, and Mike Cordero listen to City Manager Jason Stilwell speak during a council meeting on July 3, 2018. 

The Santa Maria City Council received its first-quarter financial report — which shows increased sales tax revenue from the Enos Ranch project but decreases in revenue from permits and hotel/bed taxes — during its Tuesday meeting.

The report — which primarily covers the city’s General and Enterprise funds from July 1 to Sep. 30 — was written by Finance Director Mary Harvey.

Sales tax receipts through the first quarter are approximately 7.2 percent or $401,460 greater compared to last fiscal year.

“The primary reason for the increase is the opening of businesses at Enos Ranch that has contributed to an uptick in sales in the general consumer goods as well as the restaurant and hotels industry groups,” Harvey said. “Although the year-over-year is encouraging, it is important to note that the city anticipated the jump in sales tax revenue from Enos Ranch and included those higher revenue projections in the 2018-19 budget. First-quarter sales tax revenues are right on track at 25.7 percent of the annual estimate.”

Although the city expects to receive a steady stream of sales tax revenue from Enos Ranch, Harvey noted that those revenues will likely spike for the first six months to a year before coming down to a more realistic level.

Revenue from permits and fees is at 22 percent of the budget or approximately $574,590, which is around $237,000 less than the amount received through the first quarter of 2017-18. Harvey attributed the year-over-year decrease to numerous permits for the Enos Ranch development that were processed during the previous fiscal year.

Through the end of September, revenues from the hotel/bed tax were $147,420 less than last fiscal year primarily due to receipts posted in October that were for September, according to Harvey. Hotel/bed tax generates around 5 percent of General Fund revenues and by the end of the fiscal year is expected to show growth of around 2 percent compared to 2017-18.

Property tax revenues were nonexistent in the first quarter since the tax payments are received from Santa Barbara County in December and April of each year.

The unemployment rate in Santa Maria reached a low of 4.4 percent in August — up from 5 percent last year, according to the Employment Development Department. During the same period, the unemployment rate was 4.3 percent in Lompoc, 4.2 percent in Guadalupe and 3 percent in Santa Barbara. Countywide there were 7,700 people jobless — and 207,700 people with jobs.

The City Council also voted to approve several budget amendments, including an increase in appropriations by $10,000 in the Measure A fund for the North County Bicycling and Safety Education Program, which educated youth on how to safely operate their bicycles.

Council members also voted to increase contracts and services appropriations by $2,689,170 in the Solid Waste Collections Fund to make up for normal operating service costs that had been inadvertently left out of the 2018-20 budget.

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Razi Syed covers Santa Maria City Government for Lee Central Coast Newspapers.  Follow him on Twitter @razisyed

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