Columbus faces drop in tax revenue, delays hiring

A 29.1 percent drop in sales tax revenue has forced the city of Columbus to temporarily freeze the hiring of new employees for the next two months, City Manager Isaiah Hugley said Tuesday.

"What we are doing is postponing the posting and hiring of employees through the end of the fiscal year which ends June 30," Hugley said. The action excludes positions in public safety.

The decision was made after the Finance Department received the February distribution of sales tax revenue for operations last week. The city has two sales taxes for operations, one approved in 1976 and another that went into effect in January. The February collection was $2.1 million for the 1976 sales tax and $1.8 million for the new sales tax to fund public safety and other projects.

The delay in hiring will help the city balance its budget. If the drop in sales tax revenue continues, Hugley said the temporary action may have to be extended into the fiscal 2010 budget.

"We are not panicing over this," he said. "We are taking precautions."