Business is Slowing Tax Revenue
Colosseum Bistro owner Jeff Ferguson says business feels slower than ever.
"This is pretty much a low point," explained Ferguson.
The impact of slower business goes far beyond restaurant registers. Fewer sales means less sales tax revenue, and less tax revenue means less spending money for the city.
Sales tax revenue from local businesses like the Colosseum makes up 30 percent of the city's budget. To compensate for slow sales in such a significant portion of the budget, city officials have made spending adjustments.
"There may be some positions that were approved to be hired that won't get hired until later in the year. So we'll hold off on those things that we can and keep monitoring the deparment budgets and the revenues that are coming in," said City of Columbia Finance Director Lori Fleming.
She says officials budgeted four percent growth in sales tax revenue this year, but will see less than one percent growth.
Ferguson blames the drop in business on the smoking ban. But Fleming says it may be related to rising gas prices.
"I think as people pay more money for gas, or as things get tighter in the economy, that those are the things they can live without, going out to eat as much," explained Fleming.
Fleming says she expects slow sales to be a continuing trend. Fleming says that after this year, spending in the 2008 and 2009 budget will be monitored closely.
Reported by Jennifer Noncek