FLORENCE — Sales tax collections continue to climb in the city, giving rise to confidence the bond market will be a friendlier place when the City Council finalizes a capital budget.
City coffers also got fatter after sales taxes collected by a sporting goods store were routed to the proper place.
Treasurer Dan Barger said Gander Mountain had been remitting its sales taxes to Muscle Shoals instead of Florence. He could not say how much money was involved, but said the taxes did not come to Florence from October to December. That apparently was a mistake on the part of Gander Mountain’s corporate offices, he said.
Sales tax collections were up 5.28 percent in February, compared to the same period a year ago, Barger said.
“We’ve been very fortunate with our retail base in our community,” Barger said. “We are a retail town, after all.”
Sales tax collections reported in February totaled more than $2.22 million, compared to about $1.93 million for the same period a year ago. Those figures reflect sales taxes collected in January and reported in February.
The year-to-date sales tax collections in Florence total just more than $10 million, compared to $9.5 million for the same period in 2012. The fiscal year began Oct. 1.
Sales taxes drive local government in Alabama, and the City Council has been watching sales tax collections increase steadily since the recovery from the Great Recession started two years ago.
“That will show the financial rating services that the city is doing well,” Council President Dick Jordan said. “It should help either maintain or increase our rating, which will go a long way toward keeping interest rates low.”
Jordan said the council will meet later this month to narrow the list of proposed projects for a capital budget. Depending on what an analysis of city finances shows, between $10 million and $20 million could be borrowed in the bond market, he said.
“We will get the list down to first and second priorities, and the amounts we can afford,” he said.
Jordan said he believes the steady increase in sales tax collections and department heads’ management of resources during the lean years of the recession will be viewed favorably by financial rating services.
Mayor Mickey Haddock said he is not sure the effect, if any, sales tax collections will have with financial services, but it certainly won’t be a negative one.
“We will go to the bond market by May or June,” he said.
Among the projects under consideration in the developing capital budget are a city-county archive, construction of a new Indian mound museum, streetscaping along Tennessee Street downtown and drainage projects.
Robert Palmer can be reached at 256-740-5720 or robert.palmer@TimesDaily.com.