A significant increase in New Albany sales tax collections is welcome news as the city begins work on its budget for the coming fiscal year.
The latest sales tax numbers, for May, showed a 10.5 percent increase in collections.
Some have suggested that the increase is attributable to the decision by voters to allow the sale of beer and light wine within the city. That change went into effect in the middle of April.
We agree that the sale of beer, particularly in grocery and convenience stores, has had a very positive effect on city revenues, just as supporters of the ballot proposition said it would.
But we also think an improving economy and new retailers have been a big factor. The addition of the Lowe’s Home Improvement store, Walgreens Pharmacy, and new restaurants and a hotel all have made a difference.
The additional revenue from beer and light wine sales has come without any of the negative impact predicted by some opponents of the proposal. Crime is not on the rise and we have not had an upswing in drunk driving.
By the time the city has to make budget decisions at the beginning of September, we should have another month of sales tax results to help with revenue planning.
We think the city needs to look carefully at unmet city needs, should additional money be available, for next year. Developing a priority “wish” list for the city is important to keep any new money from just being absorbed in daily operations.
In any case, budget planning may be a bit easier as the economy continues to improve.