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City sees increase in monthly sales tax collection, remains cautious amidst COVID-19 unknowns

Jul 22, 2020

STILLWATER, Okla. (July 22, 2020) - Despite expectations that the COVID-19 pandemic would negatively affect municipal revenue, the City of Stillwater’s latest sales and use tax collection held steady or showed a small increase. July sales and use tax collection, which reflects May transactions, totaled $2,541,320, a 4.82 percent increase from last year. Though this is good news, the City continues to remain financially cautious.

“This spring, with so many businesses shut down and big events (including Legends Weekend, graduations and Special Olympics) cancelled, we anticipated that the City’s sales tax revenues would most likely decline,” City Manager Norman McNickle said. “We are pleasantly surprised to see we were wrong, but it’s important to remember that we are not out of the woods yet.”

McNickle pointed out there are still unknowns that may affect the City’s finances this year—including the possibility of another shut down due to the pandemic, reduction in unemployment benefits that affect personal spending, little or no federal stimulus funding, and whether traditional fall events that generate sales tax will be held or attended at the same capacity.

“The City of Stillwater continues to monitor the situation and to practice financial caution,” he said. Since March, staff have been following stricter purchasing polices, eliminating non-essential expenditures and seeking grants and federal stimulus programs to cover expenses. Many capital projects have been put on hold. “It is our goal to see that Stillwater residents receive all city-provided services and not see cuts in service.”

In Oklahoma, sales tax is the largest source of recurring revenue for municipalities. In Stillwater, 58% of general fund revenue (which is used to pay for public safety, parks, street and sidewalk projects, library, and more) is from sales tax collection.

“We encourage residents to continue shopping local,” McNickle said. “Many Stillwater businesses are offering curbside, pick up and online shopping options. These dollars spent locally will not only fund essential City services like fire or police, but they will also help Stillwater’s economy recover from the current pandemic.”

July sales, use and hotel/motel tax collection numbers

The City of Stillwater’s July 2020 sales and use tax collection totaled $2,541,320. The collection is based off May transactions that were reported to the Oklahoma Tax Commission in June and apportioned to the City in July. You can see all of the City’s monthly sales tax reports at http://stillwater.org/news/view/id/194.

The City of Stillwater’s sales tax collections in July 2020 was $2,289,345, which is up $36,230 (1.61 percent) from July 2019.

The City of Stillwater’s use tax collections in July 2020 was $251,975, which is up $80,727 (47.14 percent) from July 2019. Use tax is due on goods purchased outside of Oklahoma and brought into Stillwater and consumed in situations when no sales tax was charged. The City predicts this recent increase in use tax is due to the increase in online shopping across the community.

Hotel/motel tax remitted to the City in July 2020 totaled $27,429, which is down from July 2019 collections by $55,042 (66.74 percent).

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