HAMMOND — Mayor Mayson Foster told the City Council that a final accounting of the city’s sales tax receipts for the 2011-12 fiscal year ending June 30 shows the city collected $1.16 million more than budgeted.
Foster said during Tuesday’s council meeting that a total of $16.9 million was collected in sales tax revenue during the past year, compared with anticipated collections of $15.78 million.
The mayor said that the city will place $800,000 of the funds into a surplus account and about $360,000 will be available for improvement programs and certain capital outlay projects.
Foster said that he attributes Hammond’s unexpected rise in sales tax collections to what he termed the “resiliency” of Southeastern Louisiana University.
“Despite severe budget cuts to the university by the state, Southeastern’s enrollment has remained steady and this has a great impact on our economy,” Foster said. “We just hope that the university does not have to suffer any more cuts … the university is such an important part of our community.”
The mayor said that retail business in Hammond had been especially “robust” during the past year, led by the rejuvenation of Hammond Square Mall.
Other agenda items before the board included:
NEW WATER WELL: The council, on the advice of City Engineer Chuck Spangler, agreed to spend another $40,000 to deepen a new water well in Zemurray Park to secure high-quality water.
Spangler said that the well, tested at a depth of 2,200 feet, yielded higher-than-expected levels of iron and manganese.
The cost of drilling the new well is covered by a $740,000 Louisiana Community Development Block Grant and a city match. Foster said that no additional city funds will be needed to drill to the deeper depth.
LMA AWARD: Councilman Robert “Bobby” Martin, who attended the recent Louisiana Municipal Association state convention held in New Iberia, announced that Hammond was one of only two cities awarded a plaque for earning the Community Achievement Award.
The awards are presented to municipalities for achievements in various areas, including obtaining grants for city planning.