Tulsa Stores Not Surprised By City's Lower-Than-Expected Tax Revenue
TULSA, Oklahoma - Tulsa's latest tax check from the state isn't what city leaders hoped it would be.
The $21 million earned from mid-December 2015 to mid-January 2016 is 3.8 percent below what was expected. Mayor Dewey Bartlett ordered a hiring freeze and asked department heads to cut spending.
Some area business owners said they're not surprised by the report, saying the last several months have been rough because people are less willing to part with their money.
Over the next few days, business will be sweet for Candy Castle Downtown at 5th and Boston.
Manager Kyera Coghill said the store normally sees a slight slump between Christmas and Valentine's, but when she really thinks about it, that slump has lasted the better part of the year.
"What I've noticed is there's not as many people walking around out here, coming in, buying stuff," Coghill said, adding that business is still "wonderful."
Experts say the oil bust is driving sales tax revenue down statewide.
In Tulsa, February 2016's collection is the first month of the fiscal year in which revenue was less than the previous year's.
Stacy Rippy said her regular customers still stop in to visit her boutique in the Blue Dome District, Simply, but she's noticed people are buying less.
"I'm getting the feeling that they're being a little more cautious about what they're spending in their entertainment and their personal spending," Rippy said. "That's definitely affecting sales tax and how that rolls out to the state."
Sales and use tax make up two-thirds of Tulsa's general fund, which pays for services like police and fire, dispatch, pothole repair and snow and ice removal.
Buying local, store owners say, is more important than ever.
"When we go through a tight situation with what's the state's going through now, and everybody's tightening their belts, if that money's not being spent here, we're going to be affected with it, probably double," Rippy explained.
The City of Tulsa said it is bracing for more declines in tax revenue later this year and will adjust accordingly.