LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — The city government may have more leeway with their budgeting hopes for the next year after sales tax collections for July rebounded from double-digit losses in the previous months.
According to a press release from City Council Chairman Pat Lewis, collections for July — which reflect June sales — saw a 2% increase over July 2019. Sales tax collections that reflect sales that took place in March, April, and May of this year were down 14.9%, 21.1%, and 14.9%, respectively, from those same months in 2019.
“Much higher than anticipated collections open the door for more flexibility in the ongoing budgeting process,” stated the release. If the rebound continues, the City of Lafayette could see as much as an additional $12 million from what was projected. The current proposed budget from Mayor-President Josh Guillory predicts a sales tax downturn of 27% over 2019.
If, for example, the budget was only predicted to be down 15% from 2019, that alone would free up an additional $6.5 million.
“Projecting a full 27% decrease from the 2019 budget is unrealistic, and I think that has led to false pressure to close facilities and lay off employees,” Lewis said. “Now that we have a better sense of what the economic recovery may look like for Lafayette, it’s important that we take a more reasonable look at how to project revenue going forward.”
The rebound seems to coincide with the start of Phase 2 of Gov. John Bel Edwards reopening order. April was the lowest month of the year, reflecting the time when all business activity was shut down by the stay-at-home order.
The Mayor-President’s current budget reflects roughly $6 million in cuts to the Parks and Recreation Department, Lafayette Science Museum, the Cajundome, the Heymann Performing Arts Center, and the Acadiana Center for the Arts, according to the press release.