Sandusky's budget experienced a scary good run this summer, thanks largely to Cedar Point’s Halloweekends.
Through Oct. 19, the city is looking at a $200,000 to $500,000 surplus, following a surge in tourism dollars.
City leaders budgeted for a major decrease in tourism because of a struggling economy. But instead, Sandusky has only seen large increases form this source of revenue.
“Where we were last year, there was no way to guess we’d be where we are now,” Sandusky finance director Hank Solowiej said.
Hot, dry weather and heavy online promotions led to a strong summer for Cedar Point, park spokesman Robin Innes said.
Unlike last year, many more people spent the night at local hotels as opposed to taking day trips, the city’s finance reports show.
The city began the year with a $2.8 million cash balance. City leaders drastically reduced spending in hopes of balancing the budget.
Solowiej said he's now “pretty confident” the city will finish with no worse than a $3 million balance.
“I think that’s looking pretty safe,” he said. “Somewhere between $3 million and $3.3 million.”
It’s not all good news though.
Through the end of September, income taxes remain down 6.5 percent compared to last year, or about $295,000. The city budgeted for a 4 percent decrease, but lost more jobs than it expected, Solowiej said.
Still, the city received a big boost from the estate tax this year, which will temporarily offset the declines in income-tax revenues.
The government collects estate-tax revenues when local residents die. The city projected it would collect $150,000 in estate-tax revenues this year, but it has already received $403,000.
Earlier this week, Erie Regional Planning Commission reported that Sandusky's population has dropped by nearly 8 percent in the past decade.
What it means for Sandusky: less revenue.