Despite dire predictions regarding tax collections due to the COVID-19 lockdown, both Edgerton and Gardner have seen an increase in sales tax revenues year to date.
“After all the doom and gloom that was predicted, it’s a pleasant surprise to see sales tax collections coming in above last year’s numbers,” said Karen Kindle, Edgerton finance director. “As essential businesses, LPKC played a significant role as the largest contributor of city sales and keeping the Edgerton economy running. We’re in good financial shape, but we will continue to monitor these revenue sources and make changes if needed.”
Gardner has also seen an increase in sales tax revenue. “Gardner’s two largest sales tax generators are Walmart and Price Chopper,” said Matt Wolff, Gardner finance director. “Most grocery stores have seen an increase in sales during the pandemic. The city also continues to grow in population, which has a positive effect on sales tax revenues.”
Gardner has not seen as much of a loss in revenue as other communities in the area, but there is still a lot of uncertainty regarding the impact of  COVID-19 on future revenues, Wolff said. “The proposed budget provides a funding plan for essential public services and continued long-term infrastructure investment during a time of difficult economic challenge.”
“We have lowered revenue projections for 2020-2022,” Wolff said. The city has implemented a partial hiring freeze as well as departmental budget cuts to offset the projected shortfall in revenues (when compared to the original revenue projections).
Gardner’s departments were asked to try and cut up to 10 percent of their budgets this year. “Training and travel, funds allocated for consultants, and police vehicles are some examples of line-items that were affected by the budget cuts,” Wolff said.
The recent loss of three planners in Gardner’s economic development department is not due to budgetary concerns, Wolff said. “This change occurred after the budget cuts and is not reflected in the budget,” Wolff said. “The annexations are part of the city’s growth management strategy and are important for securing the community’s long-term financial health. They provide new areas for the city to grow and the new developments will expand the tax base.” Gardner has annexed more than 1700 acres in the last year and approved several developments. At the last Gardner council meeting a two-year agreement for planning services was approved.
Gardner’s sales tax collections for 2019 were $2,907,200, and in 2020 were $2,969,532, Wolff said.
Edgerton’s sales tax increased by about 21 percent.
“City sales tax collections so far in 2020 are roughly $240,800, which is up 21 percent compared to this same time in 2019,” Kindle said.
“The City of Edgerton’s sales tax collections continue to be ahead of 2019 and in line with the forecast,” Kindle said.