As economy improves, so does Oak Ridge North's sales tax revenue

The City of Oak Ridge North is seeing an influx of sales tax deposits at levels that are among the highest in the city's history. Through the first four months of 2012, Oak Ridge's sales tax allocations have increased by 16.52 percent over the same period last year. Since October 2011, revenue has gone up 12.02 percent.

City Manager Vicky Rudy said one of the reasons for the increases has been the recovering economy.

"The economy is finally improving," she said. "It's finally making its way to Oak Ridge North. We are just the last to see the effects of recovery."

The first four months of the year have all seen double-digit percentage increases over the previous year. For example, the city took in $81,445.86 in sales tax allocations for the April 2011 reporting date. This year, that amount rose about 33 percent to $108,316.68.

Sales tax reporting months for Oak Ridge North run two months behind. So the April data reflects deposits made in February 2012.

The city experienced a record high in sales tax earnings for February 2012 (reflecting December 2011 deposits) with $239,335.50. The previous high was in May 2011 with earnings of $233,999.15.

However, while the percentage growth may be an impressive figure, Rudy said the actual totals are relatively modest.

"Quite honestly, the percentages are big, but it's not a lot of money," she said.

The increases, she said, likely will not allow the city to do much in the way of significant projects or tax reductions.

"We just stay on the path we're on," Rudy said. "[The revenue increases] will allow us maybe in the end to help us with small things at the end of the year. We're not going to spend it all in one place."

Not only is the city seeing record earnings, but businesses are showing a renewed interest in opening in Oak Ridge North.

"Our [shopping] centers are starting to fill," Rudy said. "There was a lot of vacancy for a while."

Rudy said the city is seeing an increase in building permits and businesses looking to sign leases, although many of those businesses may not open for a few months.

"We know people are getting ready to sign leases," she said. "For months to come, it looks like there will be increasing sales tax entities coming in [to operate in the city]."


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