City of Auburn could see big impact if students don’t return in fall

Published: Jul. 22, 2020 at 10:15 AM CDT
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By Sally Pitts | July 21, 2020 at 5:17 PM CDT - Updated July 22 at 6:15 AM

AUBURN, Ala. (WSFA) - Auburn football fans not only fill the stands at Jordan-Hare, they also pack local restaurants and hotels helping feed Auburn’s economy.

“There are certain businesses that are in business mainly because they make the majority of their revenue during football time,” said Auburn City Manager Jim Buston.

Buston estimates sales tax revenues would drop around 20 percent during the football months if there are no games this fall.

But the city could see an even bigger hit if students don’t return to campus.

“That means 20,000 less people spending at restaurants; 20,000 less people renting; 20,000 less people doing everything they do in the economy,” he said.

Auburn’s economy overall right now is in good shape, according to Buston. Construction remains strong.

“Building permits are up almost 50 percent,” said Buston. “Ad valorem taxes, surprisingly, are up almost 11 percent.”

Buston says revenues for the first six to seven months of the fiscal year were off the charts for the city - higher than they had anticipated.

Even with the downturn he says the city is in good shape.

One area that has been hit hard in Auburn - the hotel industry. Buston says lodging taxes are down close to 50 percent.

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