By Joshua Huff, sports editor
CLAY — The city of Clay will need to tighten its financial belt as the coronavirus pandemic continues to shutter businesses throughout the country and starve cities of revenue from sales taxes, Clay city manager Ronnie Dixon said during the virtual city council meeting on Tuesday, April 28, 2020.
With the shuttering of restaurants and all non-essential businesses over the past month, the loss of income from the sales tax has hit the city sooner than expected with losses in April totaling $20,000.
“I expected we would have one more fairly substantial month,” Dixon said. “Instead, we have taken about a $20,000 hit this month, year-over-year. We might be in for two or three several slow months. Publix, (Piggly Wiggly) and Dollar General are going to be consistent, but all of the smaller businesses being closed is effecting our income on sales tax.”
Dixon added that the city remains in fine shape.
The general fund sits at $613,756.61 and the capital fund sits at $653.53, which is money set aside for Cosby Lake. The city’s splash pad fund is $440,173.96.
“We’re in good shape, but we’re going to tighten our belts a little bit with expenses that we can control over the next couple of months and try to make up that $20-25,000 that we’re going to probably be down in sales tax revenue,” Dixon said.
Clay will soon get some help with the introduction of O’Reilly’s, which is expected to open June 1 should weather permit, Little Caesar’s, which is still in the early stages of development, and a new, unnamed BBQ restaurant that is seeking to move into the old Hardee’s building.
The city also has its eyes set to the future when the COVID-19 orders relax even more. The city has tested every city employee who has been working. Twenty-five tests were administered and all came back negative for antibodies.
“Nobody here has had it. Nobody here has been exposed to it and got the sickness, and nobody has developed the antibodies,” Dixon said. “I did that in preparation for reopening so we can say, ‘As of (April 28), nobody at city was sick, so if there was an outbreak, we couldn’t be accused of spreading it.’”
Clay is also moving forward with hosting movie nights in June, which will be outside. Dixon said that social distancing measures will be maintained during those events. The library is also set to move forward with the summer reading program, which might have to be completely outside, Dixon said.
“The (library) board was in favor of doing that,” Dixon added. “If we’re allowed to do it completely outside.”