The city of Santa Barbara received almost 11 percent more sales tax revenue in the first quarter of 2019 than it did in the same period a year ago, officials said Tuesday.
The city took in $5.26 million in sales tax revenue in the quarter ended March 31, according to a news release.
The 10.7 percent increase may be partly due to the 2017 Thomas Fire and 2018 Montecito debris flow that depressed local sales taxes in the first quarter of 2018, officials said. Revenue from January through March 2018 was $4.773 million, compared to $4.859 million in the first quarter of 2017.
“By way of comparison, the two year growth from March 2017 to March 2019 is 8.3 [percent],” the city reported in the press release.
Santa Barbara collected $1.66 million in transient occupancy tax, also known as bed tax, in April, up 11.7 percent from April of last year.
Again, the disasters of late 2017 and early 2018 may have had an impact on 2018 revenues.
Transient occupancy tax revenue fell 1.8 percent from April 2017 to April 2019, the city reported.
Transient occupancy tax is levied on people staying in hotels, motels, inns or other short-term lodgings.
“It took several months before people were coming back to Santa Barbara,” Jennifer Tomaszweski, the city finance and treasury manager, told the News-Press.
Ms. Tomasweski cautioned that there is still “no way of knowing” the precise impact of the Thomas Fire or the debris flows but the city can deduce that the events certainly had an influence on revenues.
“There’s a lingering effect,” she said.
Santa Barbara has collected $15.93 million in TOT revenue since July 1. The fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30. The annual TOT budget is $19.6 million.