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City expects sales tax revenue to rise
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The stifled economy has slowed taxable sales in Ceres for the last six fiscal years which, in turn, has choked sales tax revenues to the city of Ceres.

But city officials say they're optimistic that numbers are starting to go back up.

"Sales tax revenue has started to increase in Ceres," said Sheila Cumberland, the city's Finance Director and Assistant City Manager. "The outlook for the future is mostly positive and I believe we will see continued growth in sales tax. I expect California's economy to slowly improve but at a rate slower than other states, so I think other cities will be facing similar slow growth."

City leaders have optimistically budgeted $3,505,000 in sales tax revenue for the new 2012-13 fiscal year which began on July 1. The city does not know the final revenue totals - the final two receipts have yet to come - for fiscal year 2011-12, but indications are that it may total $3.22 million. That number would be better than the $2.97 million received in FY 2010-11.

Those who buy products sold in Ceres pay a sales tax of 8.375 percent. A half-cent of that is a special tax enacted in 2007 by Ceres voters when they passed Measure H.

Every jurisdiction in California where a sale is made gets to keep a penny of the sales tax dollar collected. In contrast, the state keeps six cents.

What the city does keep goes into the general fund, of which three-quarters is spent on the Public Safety Department, namely police and fire protection.

Ceres is like a lot of other cities in that the loss of both sales and property taxes has meant less to spend for essential services.

The loss of revenue has been significant. During the 2006-07 fiscal year, Ceres City Hall received $3,805,322 in sales tax revenue. As the economy hit the skids, the number continued to drop:

• Fiscal year 2007-08 - $3,582,561;

• Fiscal year 2008-09 - $3,557,756;

• Fiscal year 2009-10 - $3,146,026;

• Fiscal year 2010-11 - $2,974,091.

From July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2011, Ceres lost $831,000 in sales tax revenue.