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Opp city tax collections down 10%

The city of Opp’s year-to-date sales tax collections are down 10.3 percent through the first two months of the fiscal year, but city officials are hopeful the dip is not the sign of a trend.

Opp collected $158,300 in city sales tax during the month of October, which was an 18.6 percent drop from October 2008’s collections of $194,400. However, November’s collections were slightly up — the city collected $149,900 this year and $149,200 in November 2008.

“We’re hopeful our sales tax collections will rebound,” said Opp City Clerk Connie Smith. “It just shows that it’s very important for everyone to shop in Opp whenever they can. It’s what keeps our city running.”

One cent of every dollar spent in Opp is earmarked for a special education tax that is used to pay off the debt on the new elementary school. At Tuesday’s meeting of the board of education, Opp City Schools chief financial officer Linda Banks said November’s $52,200 debt payment had to be supplemented with $6,200 from the general fund, in order to make up for a shortfall from the sales tax decrease.

Opp Superintendent Michael Smithart said the system has had to supplement its debt payment before, but it’s not an ideal long-term solution.

“Any shortfall has to be made up somewhere,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll see a spike in December with the Christmas shoppers and travelers. We always have plans in place to deal with any budget shortfalls, but obviously when you move funds from one area of your budget, then it’s going to be felt somewhere.”

Smithart added that he is hopeful the city’s collections will turn around.

“You have to keep in mind, that some months are always better than others,” he said. “There will be some months where we take in more than we need, and then we can use that to replenish what had to be taken out for the short months. We’ve been short these last few months, but hopefully it will turn around.”