Sales Tax Revenue Not Good For Fresno County Cities

FRESNO, Calif. Adam Morris is busier than ever at Jacobsen Trailer in Fowler. He is one of 15 employees, but not long ago he had many more co-workers.

"At least ½ the guys that were working here are not here anymore," said vice president Eric Jacobsen.

Jacobsen said he let those workers go because sales were cut in half over the last two years. "When construction fell off, it fell off, the sales fell off and agriculture is always there but it's not doing well either," he added.

Jacobsen Trailer is one of six manufacturing companies whose tax revenue makes up over half of Fowler's general fund. When business is bad here, it threatens operations here. So far the city's cumulative sales tax revenue is down 32% from last year.

If sales tax revenues continue to slip public safety will definitely be affected. Not to mention the possible implementation of furloughs and even layoffs for city workers.

"We haven't presented anything formal to council yet," said Ronny Wong, the city's finance director in charge of figuring out how to survive with less.

And as he looks for solutions, he knows other small cities in Fresno County are in the same boat. Parlier has seen 30% of its sales tax cash flow disappear.

17% has vanished from Selma's general fund. And 7.8% of Kerman's revenue is gone as well.

Wong: "We try to keep a positive view in hoping that things improve but there's no guarantee."

Fowler's budget picture won't be clear until the state's budget is approved..and so far things look bleak in Sacramento.

"I'm very skeptical," said Wong, who believes it will take 3-5 years for revenues to rebound.

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