Saturday, September 25, 2021

Rosser gives May financial update;

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For May 2019, the city reported $1.6 million in sales tax revenue; Rosser said the city last month saw a $200,000 increase vs. two years prior, reporting $1.8 million in sales tax revenue.  The increase over the same period last year, when businesses were closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, was hardly surprising. But Rosser said last month’s revenues were also up over May 2019. 

“The difference is stimulus checks,” Rosser explained, “There’s no doubt that money is being spent in the city of Gadsden.”  “I have no doubt that the city will handle the money correctly,” Avery said. 

Robert Avery made a citizen’s request at the meeting on the American Rescue Plan, asking that the communities he is a part of be represented when the city chooses what they do with the money they receive. He also offered his help in deciphering the American Rescue Plan with Rosser.  Rosser said the city has received about half of the $24 million it was expecting from the American Rescue Plan. 

Rosser said business license revenue has had a “huge loss,” but she expects next year will be way up as sales revenue has risen. Recreational services benefited from an increase in the number of events being hosted, “closing the gap” with the money lost in occupational tax and business licenses.  However, Rosser said that occupational tax revenue for the city is still down, which she believes is caused by unemployment rates. “That’s going to change, and it’s going to change soon,” she said, “Because as of today, there is no additional unemployment for the state of Alabama.”

“Saving a million dollars on the life of a loan isn’t important to you? We could use that as well as the Board of Education,” Worthy said. Councilmember Thomas Worthy asked Rosser if she was also working with the Gadsden Board of Education on their bond, which Worthy says could save the city $1 million. Rosser said there were no plans to work on it at this time, as her energy is focused on the grant for the American Rescue Plan and that the bond “was not important” to her.

“The reason that there is some hesitancy on that is because it is not clear if we can move ourselves off of the obligation,” said Councilmember Deverick Williams, “There’s been some hefty discussion with our bond attorneys and other people who are able to provide us some technical assistance on that.” Councilmember Ben Reed also asked Rosser about the bonds, saying he was under the impression that the schools were handling that issue. Rosser said that the intent was for them to handle the bond themselves, but the most recent correspondence was “totally opposite of that” because they believed that the city could get a better rate than the Board of Education. “There’s a lot of effort that has gone into this, and this is something we are not taking lightly.” Rosser said, “We are working very diligently on that.”

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