Ain’t the rain great? Not if you’re a city financial director. As much as we all love the wonderful things a few hefty sprinkles from Mother Nature does for our lawns, it’s not such a great thing for the city of Sulphur Springs’ treasury.
The fact is, the city’s leaders had reason to hope for a drought this summer. While sales tax collections have been up and general operating fund (in other words, the day-to-day operations of the city) look to be fine this fiscal year, the same can’t necessarily be said for the water and sewer side of the budget.
The enterprise fund is what that side of the spending plan is called, and it’s kept separate from everything else as far as finances go. So while the rest of the city’s revenue stream is doing fine — property taxes, the aforementioned sales tax, hotel taxes, mixed beverage receipts, etc. — water sales haven’t been flowing that well, so to speak. The city financial director, Peter Karstens, said as much at July’s City Council meeting, indicating the enterprise fund hasn’t done as well as had been hoped.
Mind you, there’s no reason to panic — there’s plenty of cash in reserve in said enterprise fund. But Karstens has this thing about getting enough revenue in to cover all the costs, so he doesn’t like shortfalls that make him pull money out of the reserves in the piggy bank.
And that’s where the weather has been raining on his parade, because, as he pointed out earlier this month, if we have a dry summer, that will mean lots more people out watering their lawns, which means more water pumped out of Cooper Lake and through the meters at homes, which translates into more water sales, which results in, ultimately, more money for the enterprise fund. A nice drought, in fact, can add something like a quarter of a million dollars over the course of the summer in water sales revenue.
It had been about three years since we’d had a dry summer, and if it hadn’t rained much, the budget planning could’ve gone easier. Instead, we’ve had almost 6 inches of rain this month and close to 18 in the last three months.
Sorry, Peter. Maybe our luck will dry up next year.
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