Woodward seems to have “weathered the storm” economically speaking.

However, the recession has still taken a toll as can be seen by the city’s sales tax collection in the past few months.

“It really dropped back in March and April,” said City Treasurer Doug Haines. “It dropped about 16 percent in that two month period.”

Haines explained that the percentage is based on a month-to-month comparison with the tax collections reported in Feb. 2009, rather than a year-to-year comparison.

“But it’s been holding its own ever since,” he said, noting that “May, June, July and August reports have been pretty consistent.”

In the last six months, he said the city’s monthly sales tax receipts are holding steady around an average of $770,000 a month.

In fact, the Aug. 2009 report came in around $772,000, Haines said, noting the report reflects tax receipts from June 2009 since “the state has a two-month lag time” in reimbursing sales tax collections to cities.

However, he said the Aug. 2009 report is down almost 12 percent from the Aug. 2008 report which stood at $873,000.

The disparities between the July 2009 and July 2008 reports were even greater, Haines said.

In fact, when the current July and August reports are combined they are down a total 16.5 percent from the previous Fiscal Year, he said.

The bigger problem though is that this decrease is greater than had been anticipated when Haines was formulating the 2009-2010 city budget.

Although, he “made some preparations in the budget (for tax collection shortfalls),” Haines said “the overall adjustment on sales tax was probably around seven percent.”

“We knew it was going to drop and that it had dropped,” he said, noting that the city just didn’t realize just how far the sales tax collections would drop.

However, Haines said he has “a holding card.”

“We’ve set mechanisms in place to offset any deficits we may have in sales tax collections,” he said, noting the main ‘mechanism’ is “a freeze on capitol outlay projects until after January 1st of next year.”

But the city treasurer is hopeful that things might pick up again and that the economy may begin to rebound in the coming months.

The fact that sales tax receipts have been holding steady the last few months is “a positive sign,” Haines said.

“I think its a very good indicator that we’ve suffered the initial blow and the economy has reached a leveling out stage and we will stay there until we see an increase in drilling activity and other business like that; then we will start seeing our sales tax numbers start picking back up,” he said.

Haines said he is hopeful that former President George W. Bush’s visit in July might be reflected in slightly higher collections in September and “reflect some good news for us.”

“We may be down 16 percent now, but if we rebound and start seeing an uptick in collections, hopefully we will end up around the six or seven percent that we projected,” he said.

But even with the greater decreases than anticipated, Haines said that the citizens of Woodward should “hardly see an impact.”

He said mostly city departments will have to make do with older equipment and older vehicles for a few more months before replacing them, but that delaying those replacements should not affect services to citizens.

The one thing that citizens may notice, though, is “some of the infrastructure projects, we may defer forward,” Haines said.

For instance, “we have had a pretty aggressive (street) overlay project the past few years and we may have to curtail that a little bit,” he said, noting that some streets that were scheduled to be overlaid this year might be delayed for a while.

“But if the sales tax rebounds, you will see us push forward as planned,” Haines said.

“If we see the economy rebound before Jan. 1 we might go ahead and release some capitol purchases, but if we don’t see it rebound we will be selective in what we release for purchasing,” he said.

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