Despite widespread economic woes, South Jordan City doing wellNov 09, 2020 03:15PM ● By Mariden Williams
By Mariden Williams | [email protected]
According to an economic breakdown discussed at the South Jordan City Council's Oct. 6 work session, the city's economy is faring a lot better than anybody would have expected, considering all the struggles imposed by COVID-19.
"Our sales tax numbers are actually up from what we projected for the year, and our businesses seem to be faring pretty well during the pandemic," said Mayor Dawn Ramsey.
"We don't know of any that have directly gone out of business,” said Brian Preece, South Jordan's director of commerce. “We know some that are in trouble. We know a lot of businesses have gotten COVID Cares relief from either the city, the county, the state or the Feds." But according to Preece, the only South Jordan businesses that have actually died are businesses that were already starting to fold before the pandemic hit, such as the defunct clothing store Gordman's.
The businesses that have struggled the most, according to South Jordan Chief Financial Officer Sunil Naidu, have mostly been those in the entertainment sector, such as movie theaters. Hotels have also been doing quite poorly. But restaurants, to everyone's pleasure, seem to be doing well. Naidu speculated that this may be because most of South Jordan's restaurants are fast food chains rather than fine dining establishments. Eateries with drive-throughs seem to be doing the best of all. But even those without are doing much better than expected.
"When the governor made his statement urging people to go out to eat and support the local eateries, people in our city took it serious," said Councilmember Tamara Zander. "People seriously took that to heart, and I saw a lot of neighbors and friends ordering out eating out when they didn't have to because they wanted to support their local businesses."
City officials have been receiving new business license applications steadily throughout the year, with no noticeable drop or decrease in numbers. This year city officials approved 1,708 total active business licenses, including eight new mobile food vendor licenses. As of Oct. 6, 2020, some 27,890 employees worked within the city's bounds—an all-time high, according to the mayor.
The finances of the city itself also seem to be exactly where they should be, maybe even a little better. According to Naidu, the city spent only a little over $47 million of its allotted $50 million for the year, leaving officials with a savings of around $2.5 million. Property tax revenues were about what was expected. Sales tax revenues, meanwhile, were even greater than expected.
"Overall, we came up about 9% above what we have received last year in sales tax dollars," said Naidu. Grocery stores contributed the largest chunk of the city's total sales tax dollars for the year—about 30%. Car dealerships contributed another 20%.
"I'm very proud of our city's response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ramsey said. “Our team has worked hard, and we're able to keep all departments open and all services happening while transitioning much of our staff to working from home. We will continue working closely with the South Jordan Chamber of Commerce, Salt Lake County, the state of Utah and our congressional delegation to ensure our businesses have what they need to remain open and strong."