City posts small surplus for last fiscal year | St. Louis Public Radio

City posts small surplus for last fiscal year

Aug 3, 2012

The extra sales tax generated by a long postseason of baseball helped St. Louis city end the fiscal year with a $4.3 million surplus, but officials say that sigh of relief is only temporary.

Revenue was up just about $4 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30, driven by higher hotel and sales taxes from the World Series. Lower-than-expected spending made up the rest of the surplus.

It's always better to have more money than expected, says city budget director Paul Payne, but the growth may not be sustainable.

"I think the question's still out how much that growth in the sales tax can be expected to continue," Payne said. "I think much of the growth in the earnings tax is corporate earnings, and so it depends on whether corporate returns, corporate earnings, continue to grow as they have in the next few years."

Payne also said there's no indication that hiring will increase enough to help boost the portion of the earnings tax that is withheld from workers' paychecks.

By law, half of the surplus will go to capital needs, and the other half will go to rebuild the city's depleted reserves. Payne says even with the additional revenue, the fund will still have only about half the level the city would like.

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann