Oklahoma City and Stillwater both reported better than expected sale tax numbers.
While there is reason to breathe a sigh of relief, city officials aren’t just yet, citing many uncertainties such as unemployment rates.
If there is no money to spend, there is no money for Oklahoma municipalities to earn.
Lakeside Safe and Lock owner Chris Meile is thankful business has stabilized.
“We’ve been pretty steady here,” Meile said. “We’ve got work lined up usually a couple weeks in advance so on and so fourth at the time.”
Going into the pandemic, however, before considered an essential business, Meile was uneasy.
“It was definitely one of those things not knowing what tomorrow was going to bring and you know, it was only a matter of minutes before everybody had to shut down,” Meile said.
Steady business all around is reflected in Oklahoma City’s sales tax income.
The city’s finance department expected a 12 percent decline but only saw an eight percent drop, which equaled to around $1 million.
“We were expecting worse returns here at the beginning of the year and getting better as we go,” Oklahoma City Budget Director Doug Dowler said. “If that pattern holds, things will be better than we expected.”
A similar scenario played out in Stillwater where the city expected its income to be cut in half due to Oklahoma State University students not returning to class.
“What we had been used to included some leakage, and that is, people driving to Oklahoma City and people driving to Tulsa to shop,” City of Stillwater Deputy Manager/CFO Melissa Reames said. “With COVID(-19), they stayed closed to home and really just got what they needed. So I am wondering if that is to offset some leakage that we haven’t been aware of in the past.”
While all things point in a positive direction, no one is letting their guards down.
“It is hard to say that this is a trend or this is what we are going to expect the rest of the year,” Dowler said. “There is just a lot of uncertainty right now.”
On the employment front, Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt said on Facebook Wednesday night that the city ranks third among all large cities for lowest unemployment rate in the nation.