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Sales tax sadness: Just call us the Bad News Bears

Submitted by on 1, November 17, 2009 – 5:50 amOne Comment

1194986459994010940smiley102svgmedThe city’s latest quarterly sales tax results are out, and they are, shall we say, not good.

The reality of all those auto row closures has just about finished sinking in, to the tune of about $232,000 in lost sales tax revenue for transportation uses (cars and gas) over the same quarter last year. New car sales had traditionally been, far and away, the city’s main sales tax driver.

All told, the city was out about $376,000 in sales tax revenue compared to last year, representing a 21.5 percent year-over-year drop for the quarter that ended on June 30.

In addition to the Auto Row bloodbath that helped drive down transportation-related sales tax dollars by more than half, general retail dropped by 21.5 percent, from $339,564 for the quarter ending on June 30, 2008 to $266,394 this year, due to the closure of “a department store.”

Sales taxes from construction dropped by 19 percent or about 15 grand, and taxes for food products dropped 8.8 percent, from $397,118 to $362,299.

To underscore the departure of Park Street’s final new car dealers, sales taxes from the area of Park north of Lincoln dropped 63.4 percent, from $324,390 to $118,690 year-over-year.

Sales taxes from several other areas – Park south of Lincoln, Webster Street and the Bridgeside Center – dropped by close to 25 percent. The Marina Village Business Park – which has been plagued by vacancies – saw sales taxes drop by 40 percent, from $147,171 to $87,943.

But the report highlighted two small bright spots: Alameda Point and the Harbor Bay Business Park, which saw their respective sales tax takes rise by 9.5 percent and 3.8 percent.

The staff report – which has more sales tax data in it than even I could handle – shows that the declines were in line with those being experienced by, well, everyone else. But Alameda’s per-capita sales tax haul remains one of the lowest in Alameda County (thank you, Piedmont).

Sales tax is the city’s fourth-largest source of revenue for its general fund, generating about 7.5 percent of projected revenues for this year.

Oh, and before I forget, that convenience store the Planning Board okayed a few weeks back for a long-vacant Park Street storefront was appealed and is on the council’s agenda tonight.

One Comment »

  • Steve says:

    Thanks Michele. We've been hearing a lot of "happy talk" lately about how the recession is over and how the economy in general, and the real estate market in particular, are about to take-off once again. Nevertheless, state and local government sales tax receipt figures, like the ones you've reported on, are about the best gauges we have to indicate how the economy is doing. And, these gauges show us that the economy is in awful shape and that people continue to only spend when absolutely necessary.

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