The new year is off to a good start for Kennewick with the first installment of sales tax revenue better than expected, officials say.
The city council learned at its Tuesday workshop that January's receipts showed 4.8 percent improvement in sales tax proceeds from a year ago.
"We had projected a 2 percent increase," said Dan Legard, the city's finance manager.
But it is only for one month, and shouldn't be counted as a trend for 2012, he added.
Sales tax receipts for 2011 were markedly higher than for 2010, showing a 7.5 percent gain. Legard said that was close to what had been expected.
A rebound year in car sales for automobile dealerships helped bolster the sales tax revenue from last year. And new businesses, such as Hobby Lobby and Bob's Burgers & Brew, added to the gains.
Legard noted that a $250,000 chunk of the 2011 sales tax receipts came from delinquent payments allowed by the Washington State Tax Amnesty Program. Those dollars accounted for 1.6 percent of the 7.5 percent increased revenue.
-- The council learned that an iron sculpture consisting of several large spheres up to 6 feet in diameter will be placed in a new roundabout being constructed on Olympia Street and 45th Avenue later this year.
The spheres, resembling tumbleweeds, will be made of strips of flat steel and allowed to rust.
Peter Beaudry, director of municipal services, said the sculpture will reduce the need for landscaping and maintenance.
Sharon Brown, mayor pro tem, asked about liability with people wanting to climb on the sculpture "as a potential public nuisance."
City attorney Lisa Beaton said the risk should be minimal because there is little pedestrian traffic at that intersection.