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Norfolk seeing boom in sales tax revenue

September 26, 2018

Efforts to grow the City of Norfolk look like they are starting to pay off.

The city has seen a welcome and impressive upswing in sales tax revenue the past three months, figures reported to the city by the Nebraska Department of Revenue indicate.

In July, August and September, sales tax revenue jumped by hundreds of thousands of dollars compared to the same three-month period last year.

July saw an increase of $114,000, or about 17 percent; August increased by nearly $57,000 or 8 percent; and September has so far seen an increase of nearly $90,000, a 14 percent rise.

Typically, the city records either a slight increase or decrease of about 1 to 2 percent on a monthly basis.

The overall revenue increase for the year is about $289,000, a 3.6 percent increase. That total increase is nearly double last year’s 1.4 percent growth.

Norfolk Mayor Josh Moenning said the jump is a consequence of investment and development through the city.

“What we’re seeing is the result of increased economic activity,” Moenning said. “We’re seeing more people in town doing business, from new construction workers to new health care workers. People are staying in town for longer periods of time.”

Moenning said that proposed developments, including new housing and businesses, have materialized into actual construction.

“In the late spring and summer, as these projects actually got off the ground, that has encouraged economic activity,” Moenning said.

Some of the projects include new buildings throughout the city. This year has seen the most building permits issued since 2006.

The expansion of the health care industry has also played a role in economic growth, Moenning said, citing an expansion at Faith Regional Health Services as a large project that has helped catalyze growth.

Another major area of growth is housing, with new developments ranging from single family homes to town homes and apartments. Moenning said more rental property is also essential for Norfolk’s growth, and there has been a noticeable increase in high-end apartments proposed throughout the city.

Infrastructure expansion has also been a key aspect of the growth.

“Extending water lines and sewers isn’t the most glamorous,” Moenning said. “But it allows for new things to happen in areas where it wasn’t possible before.”

The balanced geographical distribution of development projects is also important to Moenning. More development is occurring in the eastern, southern and northwestern parts of Norfolk — areas he said haven’t been developed to their full potential.

Moenning said he and city officials have been working to encourage growth throughout the city, including infrastructure expansion and more housing options.

The increased activity is a sign that more people and business are coming and staying in Norfolk.

“We have more jobs than people right now,” Moenning said. “So attracting and keeping people, especially young people, is important.”

Increased sales tax revenue not only indicates increased economic activity, but also helps fund the city’s budget and can reduce the tax burden for many citizens.

“The better sales tax receipts are, the less we have to rely on other methods such as property taxes,” Moenning said.

Moenning said that he anticipates a slight drop off in sales tax revenue in the coming winter months due to less ongoing construction, but he said he believes the overall economic growth can be sustained.

“I think with these different projects going on now, it’ll have a continuing effect,” Moenning said. “Growth can have a domino effect. It’ll keep building on itself, bringing more people to town and having them stay here.”

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