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Santa Maria’s sales-tax receipts for the second quarter of 2009 were down almost 22 percent from the same period a year ago, according to a November city report.

Compared to a year ago, sales-tax receipts from April to June were $1 million less.

If the trend continues, the city is looking at another multimillion-dollar budget deficit by year’s end and the city’s financial vitality will “not be rebounding anytime soon,” Mary Harvey, acting director of Administrative Services, said in the report.

 The 21.7-percent drop is attributable to lower gasoline prices, and fewer sales in the auto/transportation category and other groups in the business/industry classification, according to the report from Hinderliter, de Llamas and Associates — a city contractor for sales- and use-tax allocation audits and information services.

However, some losses were offset by growth in the discount department stores, garden/agricultural supplies and the food/drugs category.

Adjusted numbers for taxable sales statewide slipped 18.4 percent, and the Central Coast was down 15.6 percent over the same time period.

Two types of revenues — sales tax and vehicle-license fees from car sales — produce almost half of the city's general fund money. Depending on economic conditions, the figures can vary drastically.

Sales-tax revenues alone make up about 28 percent of the city's General Fund revenue.

The city's top 25 sales-tax producers include: Best Buy, Costco, J.C. Penney, Kohl’s, Macy's, Sears, Walmart, Toyota of Santa Maria, Santa Maria Ford, Home Motors and Stowasser Pontiac-Cadillac.

Among the city's top 15 business sectors, petroleum production/equipment was hit the hardest with a 48.5-percent slide, followed by service stations at 42.7 percent.

Other categories socked with losses more than 30 percent include contractors, 39.4 percent; new-vehicle sales, 39.3 percent; grocery stores liquor, 33.8 percent; and farm/construction equipment, 32.7 percent. 

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