City Tax Receipts Dip, Official Says

Retail sales and business-and-occupation (B&O) tax receipts so far this year are cause for concern "but no need to panic," a Seattle city councilman says.

Tom Weeks, who heads the council's finance committee, said yesterday that budget-office figures projecting a revenue shortfall this year between $2.4 and $4.5 million won't be a problem because the city ended last year with a $6.5 million surplus.

In addition, the budget office report shows no significant overexpenditures so far this year, he said.

Nevertheless, "the concern is that Boeing layoffs might make it worse in the second half of the year."

A long-run concern is that sales-tax figures show Seattle's tax receipts are growing more slowly than King County's (outside of Seattle) and both Pierce and Snohomish counties', said the councilman.

Through June, sales-tax receipts were $474,000 below projections in the $388 million general fund budget. Through the first quarter only, regular B&O taxes were down $338,000 and B&O taxes on public utilities were down $353,000 due to the weak economy and customer conservation.

In contrast, B&O taxes on private utilities are up, primarily because of cellular-phone use.

Another big drop in city revenues was parking meters, which dropped $586,000 below expectations through June because people shied away from paying the new $1.50 per hour rate and because the city now offers two hours' free parking at meters on Saturdays,

Weeks said.

The council is scheduled to look at more financial information today during its annual budget retreat at the Battelle Conference Center in Laurelhurst.