A decade ago when $8 trillion in real estate value vanished from our nation and we saw the start of the Great Recession, we also saw retail and car sales tank locally.
O’Fallon was especially hard hit because so much of their revenue was sales taxes from car sales. About $3.5 million needed to be cut from city spending.
So how are things going now for the city with high home values and a new hospital about to open? Better, but not great, and with a huge challenge looming.
The 10 metro-east cities with the top sales taxes averaged a 30 percent growth from 2007 to 2016. O’Fallon’s rate lagged at 9 percent.
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O’Fallon City Administrator Walter Denton said the city should benefit from St. Elizabeth’s Hospital’s move as well as existing retailers and those that fill in the empty land on Central Park Drive. But the Auffenberg Auto Mall’s imminent move to Shiloh presents a big challenge. Sales taxes are all about car sales, and replacing Auffenberg with another car dealer is a priority for O’Fallon.
Mayor Herb Roach may want to cry in his beer (at the Hofbräuhaus?) with Mayor Mark Eckert over that one, get some advice about bouncing back from losing much of your new car sales.
Fairview Heights remains the sales tax champ with $14.8 million in sales taxes last year, but their growth rate was 23 percent.
The biggest change was in Collinsville, more than doubling their sales taxes over the decade to a virtual tie with O’Fallon. The increase was driven by a new sales tax, which initially was put towards capital projects but now is used for operations since the city added a utility tax.
What about Belleville? Battered, beleaguered?
Not so much.
Belleville briefly fell to third place in the sales tax race a decade ago, but has been No. 2 for the past nine years with a healthy growth of 36 percent to a total of $11.1 million last year. A second Walmart Supercenter should improve things even more.
Selling some beer and schnitzel will help some, also, but as in any of our local cities nothing says “sales tax” like drawing a new car dealer. Simple enough, right? Mayor?