The Express Star Editorial blaming the citizens for the loss of jobs is not based on facts.
When the FY15 Budget was prepared the price of oil was $95 dollars a barrel and sales tax revenue were at an all time high. That year ended with the most sales tax revenue ever received. When the FY 16 Budget was prepared the price of oil was down $48 dollars a barrel and most of the local oil field support employee’s had left the city. With those figures in mind one would expect the sales tax revenue to fall by 5 to 10% percent. However, the budget was prepared with the same projected tax revenue as FY15 plus a $569,000 additional income. The City Manager shortly thereafter started broadcasting that the City had a $590,000 dollar shortfall and warning the citizens unless the 7/32nd Economic Development sales tax (generating approximately $590,000 a year) up for its five year renewal in June was moved from Economic Development into the City General Fund the City would have to layoff a number of firemen, police officers and close the Library. The tax would no longer be renewed every five years it would become a permanent tax. The citizens voted this proposal down and the EDC income went away. Had the money remained for Economic Development and renewed every five year it would probably been renewed as it had for the previous 10 years.
Unknown to the citizens the city filed an Estimate of Loss with the state showing that there was no additional $569,000 dollars in the budget since the budget must be balanced and the EDC money if approved would not be available until after the June election. The FY16 budget was driven down by approximately 7% percent lower sales tax revenue resulting in an actual $600,000 dollar shortfall in FY16. While sales tax revenue has continued to decline in FY17 this situation is further compounded by the city hiring an additional 12 employees in the past 15 months not at minimum wage (but at a cost of several hundred thousand dollars close to the current shortfall amount) nor in lieu of reducing previously identified employee’s and closing the library. Current preliminary FY18 projections are for less income and more possible cuts. So in reality the current reduction of seven and potentially more employee’s are the result of someone’s poor planning and management not the citizens.