Like small-town mayors across the country, Oakwood’s Clayton Woodard was concerned about important services like the volunteer EMT and ambulance services when restrictions were put in place during the spring due to COVID-19. Sales-tax revenues, which the town relies on completely without a property-tax levy, would dip significantly, he thought.
The worst-case scenario, though, hasn’t come to pass.
“We’re holding our own,” Woodard said. “We have seen a slight reduction in our revenue, but that was anticipated. We were seeing what was going on on the world stage, and we all got together and said, ‘We need to slow down on some spending and see what happens here.’
“We did, and it worked for us … We’re down roughly 10 percent (in revenue), but that’s not bad in my mind given what we, as a society, have been experiencing.”
Oakwood’s revenue hasn’t taken a major hit because a majority of it, Woodard said, comes from sales tax on fuel at its truck stops. And from his vantage point, the trucking industry isn’t hurting.
“Love’s and Pilot and Speedway and Phillips 66, those lots are full,” Woodard said. “It just seems that the trucking industry, by what we see, has exploded. And that trickles down.”
Of course, Oakwood has had to make sacrifices, including its sesquicentennial celebration and its Fourth of July fireworks this summer.
But Woodard said the city has gone ahead with its larger projects, including major sidewalk repairs, storm-drainage improvements and building a new village hall. And the ambulance service he was worried about, it turns out, isn’t being used as much as it was before the pandemic.
“I think it’s going to be a struggle for some of these small-town ambulance services to remain viable after the pandemic, but we’re doing OK,” Woodard said. “We’ve got reserves … Things are starting to come back. We’re slowly getting there.”
— Anthony Zilis