Plano has been hit hard by the slumping economy with sales tax revenues down now for 12 consecutive months and budget deficits of almost $50 million over the next two years.
City leaders said they are in crisis mode.
"Our personnel costs are our number one costs, and you know, unfortunately, layoffs may not be completely out of the picture, said Casey Srader, the budget director for Plano.
Right now, everything is on the table for a potential budget ax and jobs could be lost and services could be cut. October’s sales tax revenue for 2009 was 19% below October 2008s numbers and that’s when the nation was supposed to be at the worst part of the economic recession.
The loss of sales tax revenues is what motivated Plano’s Chamber of Commerce to launch a campaign called Plano First, which is designed to motivate citizens to spend their dollars locally.
“Not just shopping, but dining, and playing in Plano, spending those dollars here,” said Brad Shanklin, the president of Plano’s Chamber of Commerce.
The campaign itself is still struggling to gain traction in the conscience of citizens. Many people say they’ve never heard of Plano First, but also noted that they understand the necessity of having the campaign.
“Plano has always been a thriving city,” said Homeowner Al Skwarek, “Now the competition -- the Allen's, Mckinney's are growing up and getting their own stores -- we want to keep what we have and not lose any of it.”
Sales tax revenues for this holiday shopping season won’t be complete until mid January 2010. If there aren’t signs of increase, city leaders said they may have to begin campaigning more aggressively, or begin explaining why Plano can’t provide some of the services taxpayers have come to expect.