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100918 Enos Ranch

An aerial view of Enos Ranch looking northwest, shows the new offices of Coast Hills Credit Union at bottom left, Lowe's Home Improvement at left and Costco at right on Oct. 9, 2018. City staff have attributed a rise in sales tax revenue to the new development. 

Santa Maria’s third quarter financial report shows increases in key revenue sources like sales and property taxes and notes the submission of building plans for several new businesses, including Hobby Lobby.

Prepared by Finance Director Mary Harvey, the report covers the city’s general fund as well as the three enterprise funds from July 2018 through March 2019.

While the information is not audited, the quarterly reports are meant to provide a general picture of the city’s financial health.

In the general fund, there were revenues of $45,205,070 and expenditures of $52,039,910 through March 2019. With 75% of the fiscal year complete, general fund revenues stand at 64.7% of projections, while expenditures are at 67.9% of the $76,642,650 that was appropriated in the 2018-19 budget.

The report shows sales tax revenues of $18,323,870 — an increase of $1,022,260, or 5.9%, compared to last fiscal year.

The increase in sales tax is the result of new businesses at Enos Ranch that have contributed to a jump in sales in the general consumer goods and restaurants categories, the report said.

“Stores at Enos Ranch gradually began opening in the first quarter of of 2017-18, and most stores and restaurants are now open at the development,” the report states.

Property taxes, which are received from the county in batches in December, January, April and May of each year, are up $693,340 greater than 2017-18.

While permit revenue from the first nine months of the fiscal year is at approximately $1.75 million, which is $301,380 less than what the city received through the third quarter of 2017-18, the report notes that recent building permits have been submitted for several new businesses.

According to the report, Hobby Lobby has submitted plans to occupy the old Toys R Us location and Planet Fitness has submitted plans to open in the former Weatherby’s location.

Receipts from the hotel/bed tax also were down for the year. Through March, revenues were at $2,192,730 — $82,790 less than last fiscal year.

Harvey cited two reasons for the decrease in her report: less first responders and evacuees staying in Santa Maria hotel rooms and an increase in hotels in neighboring communities.

In the Measure U Fund, revenues stood at $3,774,950 or 75.9% of the budget. Expenditures are at 56.9 percent of the budget, or $3,650,170.

While Santa Maria saw a small reduction in its unemployment rate, which was 9.4% in February, 0.3% less than a year earlier, the city’s unemployment lagged behind the rest of the county. Santa Barbara County’s unemployment rate in March 2019 was 4.9%.

For Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Harvey has asked that the council consider two budget amendments.

The amendments call for reducing appropriations by $512,790 in the Measure U fund and $2,688,000 in the general fund as the funds in both cases had been associated with duplicate positions in the 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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City Government

Razi Syed covers city government for the Santa Maria Times. He is a graduate of Fresno State University and New York University.