City officials were all smiles this week as the city’s financial report for the first quarter of 2014 showed increases in sales tax collections and utility revenues, leading Sonja Springer, the Financial Director for the City of Mountlake Terrace, to conclude, “We remain on target with our six-year financial forecast and we continue to provide cost-effective services, programs and projects for the community.”
Springer presented the city’s First Quarter 2014 Financial Report to the city council on June 16.
The biggest news of the financial report was the $573,543 collected in sales tax during the first three months of 2014. “We were actually above our forecast,” Springer said. “We’re at 29% of the total 2014 budget, which is good because the first quarter typically is lower. We typically see more sales tax received in the later part of the year.”
The big jump in sales tax collections was important, Springer explained, due to a decrease in gambling tax revenue for the city. The drop in gambling tax collections was due to the closure of the Palace Casino last fall, leaving just two casinos operating within the city. With just $254,230 collected in January – March, Springer admitted that the city will likely fall short of the $1.2 million in gambling tax revenue that had been projected for the year.
Despite the loss of gambling tax collections, Springer stressed the city’s general fund income numbers are looking strong; “We’re right on target with our revenues,” she stated.
General fund operating expenditures showed a $100,000 increase over the same period in 2013, but Springer said the jump was due to a change in how the city is now paying rent for Interim City Hall. Previously the city made rent payments from the Capital Improvement Projects fund; this year the $105,000 for three months of rent was paid for from the general fund.
The city’s three utility funds – Stormwater, Sewer and Water – all showed increases in revenue during the first quarter of 2014 in comparison to the same period last year. All three funds also saw revenues exceed operating expenses during the months of January, February and March.
The rosy report led Springer to speculate that the overall economy in the city is seeing signs of growth. “There’s strong indicators in the first quarter that the economy is improving in Mountlake Terrace,” she said.
You can view a slide show presentation of the City of Mountlake Terrace First Quarter 2014 Financial Report here.
— By Doug Petrowski