By KEVIN CHIRI
Slidell news bureau
SLIDELL — Concerns about a possible new decline in Slidell sales tax revenue appears to be passing by the wayside.
The city hit a surprising slump in sales tax money for the critical holiday shopping months of November and December in 2011, raising some cautious reaction from some city officials.
But the January sales tax report for Slidell shows a positive trend after the city this week reported a 1.36 percent increase over the same month of 2011.
Slidell has budgeted its sales tax revenue for a 2 percent decrease during the 2011-2012 fiscal year that ends in June, so the January number was actually more than 3 percent over budget.
With the strong rebound in January, the city now stands at 1.33 percent over numbers from fiscal year 2011, once again making it an actual 3.33 percent showing over budget projections.
Slidell gets a little more than 50 percent of its revenue from sales tax money, and the city has battled decreasing numbers in the past five years after a huge spike in the Katrina aftermath.
The decreasing sales tax numbers hit a low in fiscal year 2010 at $17.8 million and had the first increase in six years with the 2011 totals of $17.9 million.
Finance Director Sharon Howes still budgeted fiscal year 2012 for a 2 percent decline and that was looking good for the city through the first four months of this fiscal year.
But in November the city had a 3.55 percent decline from November of 2010, then a 0.44 decline from the December 2010 numbers, raising a red flag for city officials.
That concern appears to be in the past with the January number of 1.36 percent higher than the year before, getting the city back on track at 1.33 percent over last year’s numbers.
Slidell officials are also anxious about what appears to be the beginning of construction for the Summit Fremaux shopping complex in the city. Officials with Bayer Properties, contractors for the project, have confirmed five tenants in the last two months for the new Slidell mall, making it appear more probable than ever that the long-awaited retail center will become a reality in 2013. Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin later this summer.
Slidell Mayor Freddy Drennan has said all along that he views the Summit as a barometer of the cities improving economic situation, and believes more retail will come to this area once the Summit is up and running.