Carson City may see $500,000 more in sales tax revenue than expected this fiscal year, possibly allowing the city to restore expenses that were set aside after a $1 million shortfall was predicted in March, city officials said Thursday.
A rise in auto sales helped put the brakes on declining sales figures in January, February and March, said city Finance Director David Heath.
"Things have improved dramatically," Heath said. "We're keeping even with last year, starting in January."
Auto sales increased by 17 percent in March, up 6 percent for the year.
"People aren't done buying cars yet," Heath said. Revenue from car sales jumped from nearly $150,000 in 1996 to more than $250,000 in 2002.
The city's revenue landscape has seen changes over the past year with a boost in car and gas sales and the loss of retail giants Wal-Mart and Kmart. Automobile and gasoline sales made up 28 percent of annual sales-tax revenue income for the city in fiscal year 2001-2002 and general merchandise made up 20 percent for the same year.
The numbers have changed notably this year, with car and gas sales making up 31 percent and general merchandise earning 16 percent.
The city, however, is expecting the numbers to dip again after the state issues its revenue reports for April, the month Kmart closed its doors, Heath said.
In March, officials predicted a $1 million shortfall by the end of June. City staff and supervisors were able to cut enough spending to make up for the expected loss.
Now, with the loss possibly cut in half, the city could have money to pay for one-time costs cut from this year's spending, said Mayor Ray Masayko.
Masayko asked staff to make a list of expenditures that could be restored if needed. If not, the surplus would be carried forward into the next fiscal year, he said.
"If we come out a little ahead of the ball game, that was what we would spend it on," Masayko said. " We have that cushion. I'm glad we did that."
No decisions will be made on spending the surplus until final numbers are reviewed in September, officials said.
In other action Thursday:
-- An urban fishing pond was given the go-ahead by supervisors after they unanimously approved a revised master plan for Fuji Park and Carson City Fairgrounds. The year-round, 1-acre pond will be constructed near Clear Creek and stocked with fish by the Nevada Department of Wildlife.
-- Carson City Sheriff's Department was given approval to purchase a mobile data system for patrol cars at a cost of $291,000, paid for out of the capital facilities fund. The system will provide patrol deputies with portable computer terminals to connect directly with dispatch to check status changes, messages, forms and images.
-- Supervisors approved spending $125,347 to continue the PRIDE bus service between Carson and Reno in partnership with the Washoe County Regional Transportation Commission.