NP April Sales Taxes Crack $1M
The first month of North Platte's higher 2% city sales tax quickly produced a milestone: the tax's first million-dollar month.
The Nebraska Department of Revenue will return $1,161,747 to the city for April, the department reported Wednesday in releasing that month's local sales and hotel-motel tax figures across the state.
Lincoln County meanwhile will receive a net $89,794 in April lodging taxes, closing the county's 2022-23 fiscal year with a record $1,208,615 for local tourism promotion.
North Platte's local sales tax rose from 1.5% to 2% on April 1, the effective date for the special half-cent tax for recreation projects that city voters approved resoundingly last November.
Proceeds from the extra half-cent will gradually repay yet-to-be-issued bonds to expand the North Platte Recreation Complex, renovate Cody Pool and relocate and rebuild the city's skate park. The special tax will expire once those bonds are paid off. The special tax's opening month yielded an initial $290,437 toward the coming recreation projects. But the remaining $871,310 was still 6.2% higher than 2022's previous April record of $820,636.
City Hall will continue to use figures from the permanent 1.5% local sales tax in determining when the city's Quality Growth Fund for economic development can start receiving fresh funds for the city fiscal year that ends Sept. 30.
April's figures raised the regular sales tax's 2022-23 take to $7.63 million, just less than $100,000 behind QGF's $7.73 million "trigger point" set when voters renewed the fund in 2020. QGF can receive up to $650,000 from city sales taxes each fiscal year.
City Administrator Layne Groseth welcomed the news on April's local sales-tax yield.
"I was hoping we would be up on our normal numbers so that would mean a good collection for the Rec Center fund," he said. "It really is what I was hoping and expecting."
Voters approved raising $52.5 million through the extra half-cent tax for the recreation work, but Groseth reminded residents that the city also will have to repay bond interest over time.
"Construction hasn't come yet, and we haven't had any bills yet, but that will come soon," he said.
City officials hope to have the first project designs by early fall from RDG Planning & Design, approved by the City Council April 1 to lead a multifirm team including local architects, engineers and builders.
Groseth said the city also hopes to begin work on Cody Pool's upgrades soon after it closes for the summer in mid-August. The 1951 pool was last renovated in 1980.
April's local sales-tax performance likely also reflected renewed construction activity in North Platte as winter gave way to spring, said Gary Person, president and CEO of the North Platte Area Chamber & Development Corp.
"You've got to take that (information) with a caution that it won't be that way every April. … I've been through that too many times as a city manager in a growing community," said Person, a former Sidney city manager.
That said, "we'll continue to see that (construction) activity over the next couple of years. Hopefully we'll get a couple of housing subdivisions going to continue the trend. … If anything slows down the economy, it's going to be the lack of housing development."
As the transformation of North Platte's mall into District 177 moves closer to completion, "you'll see a consistent rise in sales-tax revenue in the community," Person said.
Lincoln County's 4% lodging tax beat its 2022 record of $85,857 by 4.6% in April. The county's record July-to-June fiscal year also included the hotel-motel tax's two best-ever months of $175,363 last July and $165,973 in June 2022.
Person said he expects out-of-town construction workers will help keep county lodging tax income high. "There are significant projects going on in our neighboring communities," he said.
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