By BECKY KISER
The Town of Hays Financial Report for February 2022 presented to the City Commission last night contained many positives, including a one-time milestone.
“We’ve been doing this (monthly) report since 2011,” said Kim Rupp, the city’s chief financial officer, “and I’ve never had a report that all general fund sales tax collection categories had increased. I always had at least one category that had a negative trend.”
The report of the city’s top ten sales tax collections since the beginning of the quarter (QTD) by classification increased by $421,139 or 19%.
The largest percentage increases were recorded in electronic shopping (Internet) at 142%, accommodation at 85% and restaurants at 24%. The top ten categories represent 73% of total sales tax revenue for the current quarter.
“This is the first report where all categories were positive trends,” Rup reported.
Notable areas of revenue increases from February 2021 include:
* Transient Guest Fee for CVB increased by $116,000 or 44%.
* Golf revenue continued to increase to $25,000.
* Miscellaneous revenue for new gear stashes increased by $13,800 due to police department vehicles and other gear being sold on Purple Wave.
* Monthly sales tax collections from the general fund were $846,477, an increase of $133,616 or 19% over last year.
*Year-to-date, General Fund sales tax is $1,581,008, up $229,414 or 17% from a year ago.
* Monthly county sales tax collections were $102,606, up $16,000 or 18% from a year ago.
While the commission was pleased with the report, Shaun Musil questioned how much of the increase in municipal sales tax collection was the result of current inflation factors.
“Is there a way to tell, with the price going up, what is that percentage of the overall increase?” Musil asked.
“Maybe we could look at inflation and apply it,” Rupp replied. “But the problem with that is you can’t factor in how much of that is just an increase in local shopping.
“I think a lot of things contributed to those increases.”
Inflation is a major factor, he acknowledged.
“Next year around this time, if you could show 18% growth over this year, that would be something,” commissioner Reese Barrick said with a smile.
One area of revenue decline “that we’re probably all happy about is the fact that water usage has gone down,” Barrick added. “It’s actually a very good thing.”
“Especially as dry as it is,” agreed Musil.
Compared to a year ago in February, residential water consumption was down 3.5% and business was down 24% for a total decline of 14%. The result is a drop in total water revenues of 10% or $47,000.
In a 4-to-1 vote, commissioners agreed to amend the one-cent Community Improvement District (CID) sales tax agreement between Hays Mall LLC, owner of Big Creek Crossing Mall, and the city.
The amendment allows the owner of Big Creek Crossing to be reimbursed up to $1 million for upgrades he is currently making to the facility for the new Ollie’s Bargain Outlet.
The November 13, 2014 agreement required that a major retailer’s Phase 2 improvements be completed by December 31, 2016. This deadline was not met.
The resolution now gives the owner up to 18 months to submit invoices for reimbursement.
Musil voted against the amendment.
In other cases, the commission approved low bids for five projects:
* Installation of sidewalk along West 27th Street between Thunderbird and Englewood; J Corp, $56,000
* Additional curb and brick repair; J Corp, $243,760
*Repair of sanitary sewer point; Utility Solutions, $300,000
* Replacement of self-contained breathing apparatus for the fire department; Conrad Fire Equipment, $262,022
* Installation of a parking lot in East Frontier Park; J Corp, $26,700
At the start of the meeting, Mayor Mason Ruder congratulated Hays Police Sgt. Jason Bonczynski for his “heroic” actions Wednesday night in helping to save the life of a local, non-breathing, four-week-old baby.