Money

Despite — or perhaps even because of — ongoing price pressures that continue to inch retail costs higher, the City of Cullman has enjoyed record high revenues from sales and other taxes through the fiscal year’s just-concluded first quarter.

Starting Oct. 1 of last year and running through the end of December, the city’s start to FY 2023 saw total quarterly revenues of $13,443,570, a jump of more than $2 million from the same-period intake of $11,362,829 a year ago. Last year’s figure was itself an unprecedented high, ringing in 5.7 percent above first-quarter city revenues reported in January of 2021.

The fiscal year for municipalities begins on Oct. 1 of each year, and Cullman’s first-quarter figures reflect revenues and expenditures made from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31 of 2022. Along with the increase in revenue, which city clerk Wes Moore attributed in part to higher point-of-sale costs (and thus a greater sales tax funding pool), the city also saw first-quarter expenses decrease from Cullman’s spending outlay through the same period one year ago.

City Council president and Place 5 finance liaison Jenny Folsom advised, though, that the expense dip is only temporary, with planned capital improvement projects set to ramp up city spending later on in the current fiscal year.

“It’s really good news compared to last year; our revenues were up 18 percent to about $13.5 million compared to a little over $11 million for the first quarter last year,” she said. “We also have expenses down … but that’s going to change.

“We have a lot of [upcoming] budgeted items; the money just has not been spent in the first quarter. We’re getting close on the Cullman Civic Center … it’s a few months until [that project is] going out for bid. But we’re really thrilled that the first quarter had such a tremendous increase. We also were again the second lowest in the state for unemployment during the first quarter.” According to the Alabama Department of Labor, only 21 unemployment claims were filed in Cullman County for the week ending Jan 14.

Set against last year’s revenues, the city saw a combined 18 percent revenue increase via sales taxes, property taxes, business licenses, sanitation fees, and the city’s state-apportioned take of the financial institution excise tax, among other sources.

Sales taxes made up more than half of the overall $13.44 million amount to start the fiscal year, coming in at $7.73 million for the three-month period spanning Oct. 1-Dec. 31. In descending order, the next-highest major sources of Q1 municipal revenue are sanitation charges ($1.87 million); property tax ($1.78 million); and business licenses ($348,568). In each of those categories, the current fiscal year’s revenues represent a double-digit percentage jump over the same revenue sources a year ago.

Benjamin Bullard can be reached by phone at 256-734-2131 ext. 234.

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