A year ago Gonzales Mayor Barney Arceneaux and the City Council worried about about shrinking sales tax generation as the whole world grappled with coronavirus uncertainty. Heavily reliant on that revenue, Mayor Arceneaux proposed a conservative 2020-2021 budget reflecting that uncertainty. Gonzales, based on current numbers, seems to have withstood the threat and even thrived.
Introduced at the April 26 meeting of Gonzales’ City Council, the 2021-2022 Fiscal Year budget includes a 3.36% projected increase in annual Sales Tax revenues; $15,400,000. That is a $500,000 spike from last year’s budget projection offered just over a month after the COVID-19 came to dominate every news cycle.
In fact, projections for the current fiscal year (which will end on May 31) Sales Tax collection envision $16,154,455. As of January 31 the city had taken in $9,700,349 while anticipating another $6,454,106 by the end of May. That is according to the budget introduced a week ago which indicated a “beginning” General Fund balance over $14,000,000.
Four separate sales taxes are collected inside the city:
- 1% perpetual tax passed in 1959, reaffirmed in 1966 to “provide for general operations of the city;”
- 0.5% tax passed in 1989 “for the purpose of providing sewer, water, drainage, streets and gas operations.” Set to expire in 2009, the tax will remain in effect until all indebtedness related to utility service has been paid in full;
- 0.5% perpetual tax passed in 2001 “for the purpose of providing Police, Fire and Sanitation services;” and
- 1% tax in the Tanger Mall Economic Development District passed in 2012. Set to expire in 2032, the Tax-Increment-Financing arrangement is portioned to the Development District (70%) and the City of Gonzales (30%).
$12,493,000 of the total goes into the General Fund which taps into other sources including, most prominently:
- Property Taxes-$1,457,561
- Licence/Permit Fees-$1,513,000
- Franchise Fees-$1,011,000
Total budgeted revenues for the General Fund come to $17,812,101 for the upcoming Fiscal Year. Expenditures are set at $17,011,874.
From Mayor Arceneaux’s Budget Address:
“Sales taxes account for nearly 70% of the revenues in the General Fund and a substantial portion of the revenues in the Capital Outlay Fund…We base this increase on consistent sales tax activity showing month over month increases during the current fiscal year and promising permitting of new sales tax generating facilities within the City in recent months.
The city has continued to have a healthy retail sector and good success in the last year in new business creation, which the administration believes will allow the City to forecast a small increase. Additionally, the City benefits from the state’s Sales and Use Tax Commission for Remote Sellers in recapturing some previously lost online sales taxes.”
General Fund Budget appropriations, proposed by the mayor and subject to approval of the City Council:
- Police Department-$6,227,000
- Fire Department-$3,738,500
- General Government-$1,183,430
- Code Enforcement-$402,500
- Civic Center-$70,000
- City Room-$24,400
Mayor Arceneaux proposed a Capital Outlay Budget of $17,639,592 “highlighted by $8,600,000 in proposed construction of a new performing arts, conference and events center. $4,500,000 of this work will be financed by a loan” combined with:
- $1.5 million in a donation from the Price LeBlanc family
- $1.5 million from the Tanger Mall Economic Development Fund
- $1 million from hotel occupancy taxes collected to date
The Capital Outlay Budget also contemplates $1.2 million toward relocation/refurbishment of “the Roddy Road main water line, financed by an LDH loan; and $2,946,000 toward two road projects to divert traffic from Hwy 30.