The City of Mountlake Terrace saw general government revenue go almost a percentage point higher than expected during the first three months of 2013, and city officials are giving credit to a jackpot in gambling tax revenue for the increase.
City gambling tax revenue totaled $333,439 in January – March 2013, up from an expected $300,000. The extra $33,439 represented almost all of the additional income in total operating revenue collected in the first quarter of the year.
“Holding everything the same, there’s one thing that has changed, and this is gambling taxes,” said City Manager John Caulfield. “A new casino opened in December; that is essentially what that new revenue is.”
The Palace Casino opened its doors just before Christmas 2013, to bring the current number of casinos in Mountlake Terrace to three. It joins the Red Dragon Casino and the Crazy Moose Casino as gambling establishments required to pay the City of Mountlake Terrace a 10 percen gambling tax on gross receipts, plus additional taxes on pull tab, bingo, and amusement games revenue.
Overall the City brought in $4,410,559 in total general government operating revenue in January-March, up from an expected $4,375,057. The revenue from city gambling taxes make up more than 7.5 pecent of the total collected.
Caulfield reported on gambling tax revenue as part of the City’s 2013 First Quarter Financial Report presented to the city council on June 13.
While city officials were pleased with the revenue numbers, Caulfield warned that relying on gambling taxes for a steady source of revenue is a gamble in itself. “The good news is that a new casino has opened; however again, the not-so-good news is, you have heard me say this before, as quickly as a new casino opens it can close,” Caulfield said.
Other city general fund revenues also showed higher than expected totals in the first quarter of this year; the city’s portion of sales tax collections were up 10 percent, fines and forfeitures were up 11.6 percent, and revenue from business and animal licenses almost doubled.
While some revenues were higher than what officials had been planning for, other city revenues didn’t meet projections. City development services fees collected were 17.8 percent lower than had been hoped for, state shared income was 14.4 percent mbelow expectations, and investment income totaled only $771 – the city was expecting an investment return in the first quarter of almost $7,000.
Caulfield said the city was able to show an operating surplus after the first three months of 2013 due to lower spending than had been planned for. “Revenue sources – some continue to lag; however, our operational expenditures are more than making up the lag in the collections of our revenue,” he said.
The City of Mountlake Terrace spent $3,682,262 in general government expenditures in the first quarter after planning on spending $3,859,164.
You can view the entire City of Mountlake Terrace 2013 First Quarter Financial Report here.
— Story and photo by Doug Petrowski