By Tim Hunt
Checking out trends in Pleasanton's city revenuesUploaded: Jun 27, 2019
Reading through the East Bay Economic Development Alliance annual economic report, I was struck by the sales tax report that showed Pleasanton’s taxable sales dipping by 6.6 percent in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2018, the biggest drop among Alameda County cities.
Taxable sales total $1,936,041,000 for that year compared to 1,965,680,000 for the city of Dublin, an 11.1 percent increase. Livermore, driven by its auto dealerships, its manufacturers such as Topcon and Gillig buses and the San Francisco Bay Factory Outlets, increased a modest 1.3 percent, but totaled 2,879,205,000, way more than Pleasanton and Dublin.
For comparison, San Ramon totaled 843,639,000. Fremont, driven by Tesla’s delivery of its Model 3, soared 31.3 percent to 6,099,637,000, the highest total in the two East Bay counties.
I reached out to Pleasanton Economic Development Director Pamela Ott for comment and she directed me to Finance Director Tina Olson’s recent budget report to the City Council. Sales tax revenues peaked in 2014-15. Revenues have grown 7 percent since 2013-14 but are expected to decrease 1.3 percent in the new fiscal year that starts July 1.
Sales tax revenues are under pressure from online purchases by both consumers and businesses. In contrast to traditional sales taxes that go to the entity where the purchase was made, the online revenues going into a county or state pool and are distributed on a per capita basis.
Pamela wrote that car sales and transportation revenues are down statewide, suggesting there was pent-up demand after the recession ended and now, they are normalizing. She also wrote, “Tina and I would share that it’s not just one trend but rather a few trends that are contributing to the flat sales tax revenues: a shift from purchase toward subscription or license services, think software-as-a-service companies as an example; also, just as residents purchase online so, too, do businesses; and there’s a lot more retail in the Tri-Valley that creates competition for existing retailers.”
Pamela cited Simon’s interest in redeveloping the former Sears site with a fresh format and a different tenant mix (small grocery store, health club, movie theater) as boding well for the future of the mall and the city’s revenues stemming from it.
For good news, she noted that property taxes have grown steadily since 2013-14, climbing from $50.7 million to 74.8 million. The city will receive another healthy bump this year thanks to the opening of the new Workday campus next to Stoneridge Mall and the West Dublin/Pleasanton BART station.
The city’s overall revenue stream is healthy, increasing from $96.6 million in the 2013-13 to an estimated $130.5 million in 2020-21, a 35 percent increase. Nice to see our personal income bounce by that number over seven years.