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FINANCE DIR.: First time in 11 years all city general fund revenues trend positive – Hays Post

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Kim Rupp, Hays Finance Director (Photo by Becky Kiser/Hays Post)

By BECKY KISER
Hays Post

The city of Hays’ financial report for February 2022 presented to the city commission last night contained a lot of positives, including a unique milestone.

“We’ve been doing this (monthly) report since 2011,” said Kim Rupp, city finance director, “and never have I had a report where all the general fund sales tax collection categories had an increase. I’ve always had at least one category that had a trending negative.”

The report of top ten quarter-to-date (QTD) city sales tax
collections by classification was up $421,139 or 19 percent.

The largest percentage
increases were in electronic (internet) shopping at 142 percent, accommodation at 85 percent, and
restaurants at 24 percent. The top ten categories represent 73 percent of the total sales tax
collections for the running quarter. 

“This is the first report where all the categories were positive trends,” Rup reported. 

Notable areas of increased revenue compared to February 2021 included: 

* Transient guest tax for the CVB was up $116,000 or 44 percent.
* Golf revenue continued an increase up $25,000.
* Miscellaneous revenue for new equipment reserves rose $13,800 due to police department vehicles and other equipment sold on Purple Wave.
* Month-to-date general fund sales tax collections were at $846,477, an   increase of $133,616 or 19 percent as compared to last year.
* Year-to-date, general fund sales tax is at $1,581,008, up $229,414 or 17 percent from a year ago.
* Month-to-date county sales tax collections were at $102,606, up $16,000 or 18 percent from a year ago.

While the commission was pleased with the report, Shaun Musil wondered how much of the increased city sales tax collection is a result of current inflation factors.

“Is there any way to tell, with prices going up, what that percent is of the overall increase?” Musil asked.

“We could maybe do some looking at inflation and apply that,” Rupp replied. “But the problem with that is you can’t factor in how much of that is really just increased shopping locally.

“I think it’s a lot of things that have contributed to those increases.” 

Inflation is a major factor, he agreed. 

“Next year at this time if you could show 18 percent growth compared to this year, now that will be something,” Reese Barrick, commissioner, said with a smile.

One area of decreased revenue “that we’re probably all happy about is the fact that water use was down,” Barrick added. “That’s actually a very good thing.”

“Especially for as dry as it is,” Musil agreed. 

Compared to one year ago in February, residential water consumption was down 3.5 percent and business was down 24 percent for a total decrease of 14 percent. The result is a drop in total water revenue of 10 percent or $47,000.

In a 4-1 vote, commissioners agreed to modify the one-cent sales tax CID (Community Improvement District) agreement between Hays Mall LLC, owner of Big Creek Crossing shopping center, and the city.

The amendment allows the Big Creek Crossing owner to be reimbursed for up to $1 million of improvements they are currently making to the facility for the incoming Ollie’s Bargain Outlet.

The November 13, 2014 agreement required Phase 2 improvements for a large retailer to be completed by Dec. 31, 2016. That deadline was missed.  

The resolution now gives the property owner up to 18 months to submit invoices for reimbursement.

Musil voted against the amendment. 

In other business, the commission approved low bids for five projects:

* Sidewalk installation along West 27th Street between Thunderbird and Englewood; J Corp, $56,000
* Additional curb and brick repair; J Corp, $243,760
*Sanitary sewer point repairs; Utility Solutions, $300,000
* Replacement of self-contained breathing apparatus equipment for the fire department; Conrad Fire Equipment, $262,022
* Installation of parking lot in East Frontier Park; J Corp, $26,700 

At the beginning of the meeting, Mayor Mason Ruder commended Hays Police Sgt. Jason Bonczynski for his “heroic” actions Wednesday night in helping save the life of a local four-week old baby who was not breathing. 

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