Details on sales and use tax receipts for the month of April have been released by the Nebraska Department of Revenue, and the result is a mixed bag for communities across the Panhandle.
In general, those receipts were mostly flat to down by a considerable percentage for many localities, especially the larger cities, with Gering seeing just over an 11% decrease, and Scottsbluff coming in with a drop of 5.8% compared to April of 2019.
Interim Scottsbluff City Manager Rick Kuckkahn tells KNEB News the city actually fared better than anticipated. “If you’re looking at some of the surrounding communities, you’re looking at reductions in sales tax revenues of double-digits, some of them pushing 20% reductions, and we just didn’t see that,” says Kuckkahn. “The logic there and reason that makes sense is again because we are a (retail) hub, and people shop in Scottsbluff for many of their essential needs.”
However, Kuckkahn says the city’s finances are currently in good shape on a fiscal year-basis, and even with the latest figures, Scottsbluff is looking at sales tax revenues being 9.3% higher than budgeted, due in part to roofing projects continuing since last August’s hail storms. He says it would take receipts of just $145,000 per month over the next three months to bring that down to what had been budgeted for the current fiscal year, and he doesn’t expect that to happen.
A handful of smaller communities bucked the downward trend with double digit increases in Bayard, Chappell, Harrison, and Hay Springs.
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One trend common to nearly every Panhandle community was a significant percentage drop in motor vehicle sales tax revenues for April compared to the same month the previous year, down anywhere from 48% to a complete lack of such receipts. Only the community of Harrison had more such revenue that month than in 2019.