East Baton Rouge Parish is expected to face a revenue shortfall of approximately $23 million this year, largely due to a reduction in sales tax collections because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to an updated memorandum on city-parish finances from Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome.
The city-parish expects to collect approximately $15 million less in sales tax this year than what was initially anticipated during the preparation of the 2020 annual operating budget. That is a significant dent for a revenue source that accounts for roughly 61% of the municipality's budget.
Sales tax collections so far appear to be slightly better than anticipated, according to the memo, with an overall decrease of collections through April of approximately 4.5% or $2.8 million.
The city-parish has submitted its first reimbursement request for funding under the CARES Act — federal relief legislation approved at the end of March — in the amount of $21.6 million related to salaries and benefits for public safety personnel.
That exceeds the total allocation expected for the parish, though finance officials expect any shortfalls will be eligible for future allocations depending on funding availability.
Future requests for funding will cover public safety salaries, expenses associated with operating testing sites, prison medical services, additional solid waste services, public building sanitation and salaries and benefits for fire protection districts not utilizing the city-parish for financial management.
Broome wrote that with the federal and state reimbursements, a city-parish hiring freeze and the existence of fiscal reserves, she believes the parish will have taken the necessary measures toward maintaining a balanced budget for the year.