The Greensboro City Council will be discussing some of the budget ramifications of the coronavirus shutdown at its meeting on Tuesday, May 5.
Mayor Nancy Vaughan said that in particular the City Council would be “looking at sales tax revenue. The sales tax revenue projections are way off.”
The sales tax revenue projections for the current fiscal year were made about this time last year when the economy was in great shape and improving. No one in the spring of 2019 was predicting that the country would close down in the spring of 2020. With the stay-at-home order forcing many businesses to close and putting thousands out of work, sales are way down, which for the city means sales tax revenue is down creating a hole in the budget.
But that is really just the starting point for budget discussions. The Tanger Center for the Performing Arts, a $90 million facility, was scheduled to open on March 20. The grand opening and every performance since has been canceled. The Tanger was supposed to be financed primarily with a combination of parking fees, ticket fees and hotel/motel tax revenue. With no performances there is no parking fee or ticket fee revenue and, because of the stay-at-home order, the hotel/motel tax revenue is also going to be far below projections.
Vaughan said, “We need to talk about not only The Tanger but the Coliseum as well. The Coliseum is a huge generator of income across the city and for the CVB [Greensboro Convention and Visitors Bureau]. The Coliseum and the Aquatic Center bring an awful lot of revenue into our city.”
All the events at the Coliseum and at the Greensboro Aquatic Center (GAC) have also been canceled, so the City Council will also be trying to figure out how to make up that lost revenue.
Vaughan said, “We’re not in this alone everybody across the country is grappling with the same issues. We’ll figure out what the best practices are.”
Guilford County recently received $93 million in federal funds to help defray the cost to the county of the COVID-19 crisis. Greensboro was not so fortunate.
Vaughan said that Greensboro didn’t receive any of that money. She said, “Charlotte got money. But nobody else in the state qualified.”