Sales tax drop hits city, Decatur EDC

Decatur City Manager Brett Shannon shared sad sales tax news at Thursday’s meeting of the Decatur Economic Development Corp.

The total sales tax allocation to the city for the month of December 2014, which was reported in February, was $377,412, an almost $70,000 decrease from the same month the previous year.

“There was $35,747.56 of audit collections that were taken out for some reason,” Shannon said. “I don’t know what it was. Obviously, somebody got a rebate. That’s a pretty big hit.”

Mayor Martin Woodruff said the audit collections are not uncommon, but usually it’s $1,000 to $2,000.

“I don’t know if it’s due to the price of energy going down or not quite as much Christmas shopping done as in previous years … whether it’s more online sales than in-store sales. I don’t know,” Shannon said. “The bottom line is it’s down.

“Historically, this allocation is the largest check of the year due to the Christmas season and annual filers,” he said. “Hopefully we won’t get hit by any more audit adjustments of that magnitude.”

Director’s report

Executive Director Mary Poch said despite a valiant effort, it was not going to be possible to get a natural gas line to Imperial Fabrication on U.S. 380 east of Decatur.

The company needed the line to run a large powder-coating machine.

“It was going to cost half a million to $850,000 to build a gas line, and even then it was still questionable if it would be enough for them,” she said.

Jay Davidson said even with the abundance of natural gas in the county, “we learned how restrained we are to provide gas …”

Poch also reported that the business appreciation dinner will change to a bi-annual event as part of a business expansion and retention program.

She said Ida Mae Burnett has moved up into a business retention and expansion role in addition to her duties as an administrative assistant for the EDC. As part of the program, Poch said quarterly meetings would be held with upper management retail, professional and industrial sectors.

“It will have a three-part focus – retail, professional and industrial,” she said. “You kind of have to walk through it and tweak it as we go, but the overriding concern [of the program] is to support the businesses that are already here.

“What I’ve found in getting that group together is it’s an opportunity to network and share,” she said. “We’ll start those and then next year do the big dinner.”

She also noted that she received 10 inquiries in January, but since most of them required large buildings, of which there are none available in Decatur, she was unable to respond.

She also said H2X president Michael Clark, who’s in Colorado, sent a letter in late November requesting additional financial assistance because rent at their local facility is higher than anticipated. Poch told him the EDC was not allowed to give a company money for rent, but they might be able to assist the business as it expands.

Poch also told the board that she plans to have a new aerial map made.

“The last large aerial map was in 2010, and I like to redo that every five years,” she said. “We’re using the company that we used before. I want to focus more on the airport area and on specifically three to five different sites where we can zero in on where we want some development to happen.”

In other business, the board approved updating the EDC bylaws and creating a code of ethics.

At the end of the meeting, they spent an hour in executive session discussing Project Splash, Project Blue Sky, Project Landslide and Project Sidekick, but took no action on any of those items.

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Sales tax: County divided as 2015 starts

Comptroller Glenn Hegar says Texas’ continued growth in sales tax revenue is driven by business spending in the manufacturing and wholesale trade sectors as well as the oil and natural gas mining sector.

Wise County reflects that.

Bridgeport’s sales tax receipts – fueled largely by oil, gas and manufacturing – are up more than 11 percent for the first two months of 2015.

Over in Decatur, where the economy is more retail-based, sales tax receipts are down 9.14 percent through February,

In February, Bridgeport collected $260,887 from its 1.5-cent sales tax. That’s up 14.25 percent from last year’s February number, and puts the city at $469,561 for the year so far.

Decatur’s base is bigger, but collections were down 15.5 percent in February, from last year’s $446,647 to $377,412. That brings the city’s two-month total to $704,362, compared to $775,237 at this point last year.

The February sales tax number reflects collections in December as well as October, November and December sales by businesses that report quarterly.

Hegar said he will continue to watch oil prices carefully, but for now the state’s 58-month winning streak for sales tax growth remains intact.

“This allocation … is indicative of a dynamic and diverse economy that continues to generate business investment and spending in Texas,” Hegar said. “My office will continue to carefully monitor the impact that lower oil prices will have on our state’s economy, but these sales tax allocation numbers are an encouraging sign of continued strength.”

In Wise County, as usual, the story varies from city to city.

In addition to Decatur, Rhome, New Fairview, Chico, Alvord and Aurora are all trailing last year’s sales tax through two months of 2015.

Bridgeport is joined in the plus column by Boyd, Paradise, Newark, Runaway Bay and Lake Brideport.

Countywide, those 12 cities’ sales tax collections were off 8.1 percent in February and trail 2014 so far by 3.3 percent.

Wise County, which collects a half-cent sales tax countywide, took a nearly 17-percent hit in February as it collected $396,967 after taking in $477,666 for the same period last year.

So far this year, Wise County’s collections trail last year’s by 8.8 percent.

Sales tax

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Sales tax: 2015 starts on a good note

Eight up, four down.

That’s how Wise County’s dozen sales-tax-collecting cities greeted the new year – a decent start compared to last year’s January payment.

Combined, the cities collected $672,439. That’s almost $20,000 more in sales tax than they had the previous year, a gain of 3.05 percent.

Bridgeport led the way with a gain of just more than $14,000, while Rhome, Boyd, Chico, Paradise, Newark, Runaway Bay and Aurora also posted gains.

Decatur, with collections for the month of $326,950, was down less than half of 1 percent or $1,639. New Fairview, Alvord and Lake Bridgeport joined them on the down side of the ledger.

The state saw a gain of 7.11 percent, with 1,150 cities collecting just more than $400 million.

Wise County, which tacks on a half-cent to help offset property taxes, took in $331,538 to start the year – 3 percent better than it did last year.

The January sales tax figures represent November sales reported by monthly tax filers.


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Sales taxes slump in August

When it comes to sales tax collections, most Wise County cities have had a pretty good year through three quarters of 2014.

But August was not a terrific month.

When October sales tax figures were released this week, only three of the county’s 12 cities showed a gain over last year. The October sales tax represents sales made in August and reported to the Comptroller on September returns.

The down month left eight cities still in the black for the year, but it put Decatur and the total just below the line.

Decatur took in $310,632, down 9.2 percent compared to last year. The city’s 10-month total of $3.392 million is less than a quarter-percent below last year’s $3.4 million.

Bridgeport’s October check was down 9.5 percent and left the city 5.3 percent behind last year.

Aurora had the biggest loss, percentage-wise, with a 79 percent reduction from last year’s $14,370 to $2,960 this year. That city is 25 percent behind 2013.

Not far behind was New Fairview, which saw October income plummet from $46,692 last year to $16,817 this year – a 64 percent dropoff that left the city 15.7 behind last year through 10 months.

Rhome was up 11 percent in October, Alvord had a gain of 10.8 percent and Boyd’s collections were up 9.7 percent.

Wise County, which gets a half-cent sales tax, saw a 5 percent decline in October.

Statewide, cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts’ October allocations totaled $621.7 million, up 7.2 percent compared to October 2013. For the year they’re up 6.4 percent.

Sales Tax October 2014

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Smallest city has biggest gain

When it comes to sales tax income, Wise County has 10 cities up and two down.

But the biggest story this month is Lake Bridgeport.

Not the actual lake – which continues to drop – but the city, which is more than 80 percent ahead of last year after a huge gain in September.

Lake Bridgeport’s check this month is $11,757. That’s a 718 percent increase over last year’s September check of $1,437. In fact, last year through nine months, the 1.5-cent sales tax had brought the city just $12,682.

This year’s September payment puts the nine-month total over $23,000 – 81.5 percent better than 2013.

According to spokesman Kevin Lyons in the Texas Comptroller’s Office, payments from one particular taxpayer had been held up from February through July while the state attempted to verify the validity of the taxpayer.

“We could never get the taxpayer to get back with us, so we let the payments go,” he said.

By law, he can’t reveal who the taxpayer was, but the big one-time payment includes an accumulation of about six months’ payments from that one source.

Elsewhere, two Wise County cities were down for September – Newark and Aurora – but are still up for the year.

The two cities that are down for the year – Bridgeport and New Fairview – were up in September. If both continue to have months like they had in September, they may be back in the black by year’s end.

Bridgeport had a 10 percent gain for the month, and New Fairview’s September was 17.6 percent better than the same month last year.

The 12 Wise County cities that collect a sales tax brought in over $66,000 more than in the previous September – about 9.5 percent. That put the county back in the black for the year by two-thirds of a percent.

Chico showed the biggest gain for the month, 33.3 percent, pulling in $23,241 compared to $17,170 in the same month last year. That put the city 18.3 percent ahead of last year through nine months.

Newark, despite an 11 percent loss for the month, remains nearly 80 percent ahead of last year after experiencing its own windfall earlier this year.

Comptroller Susan Combs said fiscal year 2014 ended with total state collections at $27.27 billion – 5.5 percent over the previous year.

The September sales tax figures represent monthly sales made in July and reported to the state in August.

Sales Tax

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All over the map: Wise County cities continue to see mixed sales tax results

The numbers appear almost contradictory.

Two Wise County cities – Bridgeport and New Fairview – are short of last year’s sales tax numbers by a combined $157,590.

But the county’s 10 other sales-tax-collecting cities are up by a combined $136,744 – ranging from $23 in Lake Bridgeport to more than $60,000 in Newark.

Altogether, Wise County’s dozen cities are $20,846 below last year through eight months of 2014.

But the county, which collects a half-cent tax on sales within its boundaries, is $159,104 ahead for 2014 over 2013.

Go figure.

For the calendar year, the city of Bridgeport is down $134,953 compared to last year. The city of New Fairview is off $22,637.

Every other Wise County city is up for the year.

Percentage-wise, the biggest gainer is Newark with an 88.7 percent jump. But Aurora is up 27.2 percent and Chico and Alvord are both up more than 16 percent. Runaway Bay is up almost 15 percent, and Paradise is up 5.4 percent.

Boyd’s increase is modest at 2.78 percent, while Rhome is up nearly 1.5 percent, and Decatur and Lake Bridgeport both have increases of less than a half-percent.

It’s hard to make sense of those kinds of numbers, other than to say that the economic recovery continues in most places – but gets a little spotty in Wise County.

State Comptroller Susan Combs said this week state sales tax revenue in July totaled $2.34 billion – up 6.3 percent compared to July 2013.

She attributed the growth to strength in both business and consumer spending.

“The increase was led by remittances from the construction, services and oil and natural gas-related sectors, as well as from retail trade and restaurants,” she said. “Fiscal year-to-date, state sales tax collections are now up 5.3 percent.”

The August sales tax figures represent monthly sales made in July as well as April, May and June sales by businesses that report tax quarterly.

Winnser and Losers


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Sales tax up in most cities

Summer is off to a pretty good start for most Wise County cities – at least when it comes to sales tax.

The June payment from the State Comptroller’s office, representing April sales reported to the state in May, was better than last year’s in 10 of the county’s 12 cities.

Boyd was the only city that saw a big drop in June, collecting $32,054 with its 1.5-cent sales tax compared to $50,638 in the same month last year – a 36.7 percent drop. Paradise’s June payment was off just $36.

Everyone else got a boost in June, from 1.26 percent in Lake Bridgeport to 56 percent in Aurora.

The bigger cities of Decatur and Bridgeport saw modest increases, 4.6 percent in Decatur and 1.49 percent in Bridgeport. For the year, Decatur is three-quarters of a percent, or $15,578, ahead of 2013, while Bridgeport remains 13 percent behind.

Despite healthy increases in June, both Rhome and New Fairview also remain behind last year by 3.4 and 9.3 percent, respectively.

The rest of the county’s smaller cities are ahead of 2013, with increases ranging from Boyd’s 1.8 percent to Newark’s lofty 130.8 percent.

As a whole, Wise County’s 12 cities are down $101,675 – 2.26 percent – from last year. Factoring out Bridgeport’s $203,547 deficit, the other 11 cities are up $101,872 – a respectable 3.4 percent.

Statewide, 1,148 cities have picked up just under $2.5 billion from the sales tax so far this year, running 7 percent ahead of last year.

Wise County, which collects a half-cent, saw their payment drop 15.2 percent in June, from last year’s $446,280 to $378,274. That brings the county’s year-to-date total to $2,577,551, up 2.77 percent over last year’s.

Comptroller Susan Combs said sales tax growth statewide was evident across all major sectors of the economy.

“The growth was led by the retail and wholesale trade sectors, the oil and natural gas mining sector, and the services sector,” she said. “This marks the 50th consecutive month of increased state sales tax revenues, and brings the fiscal year-to-date growth to 5.4 percent.”

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Newark hits sales tax jackpot in May

A “large audit payment” by a company in Newark resulted in a May sales tax windfall for the city.

According to figures released this week by the State Comptrollers’ office, Newark’s 1.5-cent sales tax brought in $72,730 in May. That’s more than three-quarters as much as the city collected for the entire year of 2013.

The city averages about $7,800 a month.

R.J. DeSilva, spokesperson for the comptroller’s office, said the monthly increase was due to a large audit payment by a company – but reminded readers that sales tax information for individual companies is confidential under the law.

City secretary Diane Rasor said the comptroller’s office told her one of their auditors had originally placed the taxpayer in the wrong category.

“Probably they had them outside the city limits,” she said. “Once they discovered the error, they notified the taxpayer, and they got a check this week for $65,798. It’s a one-time increase.”

The city uses a half-cent of its sales tax revenue to reduce property taxes, and the rest goes into the general fund budget. Once the council gets the news, they will determine whether to use the funds for something special, or just keep them in reserve.

With the big May payment, Newark in five months has already surpassed what it collected in all of 2013 and jumped from ninth in the county to seventh, moving ahead of Alvord and Paradise.

Three Wise County cities showed a drop in monthly payments for May, and three were still in negative territory for the year.

Rhome, New Fairview and Paradise saw their May rebate slip from last year’s. Rhome’s was down nearly $20,000 or 37 percent, while New Fairview’s was down more than $13,000 or 35 percent.

Paradise also slipped behind for the month, with a rebate of $10,422 – down 6 percent from last May. But the city is still in the black for the year.

Bridgeport, which actually experienced a gain this month compared to last year, remains down for the year by 16.06 percent.

Wise County, which gets a half-cent sales tax to help reduce property taxes, showed a 16.6 percent decline in May but remains 6.6 percent ahead for the year so far, with nearly $2.2 million in the bank through five months.

Comptroller Susan Combs said state sales tax revenue in April was $2.27 billion, up 5.6 percent compared to April 2013.

“Growth in sales tax revenue was spurred by increases in the telecommunications sector and services sector,” she said. “Increased business spending in the wholesale trade sector also contributed to the latest monthly gain. This marks 49 consecutive months of growth in sales tax collections.”

Combs sent cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose districts May allocations totaling $716 million, up 7.1 percent compared to May 2013.

Those figures represent monthly sales made in March as well as January, February and March sales by businesses that report tax quarterly.

Sales Tax

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Bigs down, smalls up in county sales tax income

After a weak April, three of Wise County’s top four cities are running below last year in sales tax income.

But with the exception of Newark, 2014 is off to a rosy start for the rest of the county.

Decatur slipped below the water for the year with an 11.3 percent drop in April – taking in $290,207 compared to $327,149 in the same period last year.

Bridgeport trumped that with a 15 percent deficit. The city took in $208,150 after collecting $245,000 last year.

For the year, Decatur is eight-tenths of a percent behind last year while Bridgeport is almost 20 percent behind.

Rhome had a 7.8 percent loss for the month, but still checks in with a 7.5-percent gain for the year overall.

That’s about how far behind New Fairview is after a nearly 12-percent decline for April. But Boyd, Chico, Alvord, Paradise, Runaway Bay, Aurora and Lake Bridgeport are all up for the year – from Boyd’s 24.6 percent to 7.8 percent in Alvord.

The sales tax figures represent the cities’ share of February sales reported in March by monthly tax filers.

Wise County, which gets a half-cent, is up 14.2 percent for the year after a slight loss in April.

Statewide, cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts’ allocations were up 6.2 percent compared to April 2013.

April Sales Tax

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County hits sales tax jackpot

Seven cities in Wise County showed a decrease in sales tax revenue for March, while five were up compared to last year.

But the big story for March is the county.

Sales Tax

Wise County is allowed to levy a half-cent sales tax to help offset property tax increases. That tax yielded $627,386 in March – up more than 72 percent compared to the $364,332 it brought in last March.

That windfall brings the county’s total for the year so far to $1,426,938, compared to $1,192,120 after three months last year – nearly a 20 percent improvement.

What’s behind that number?

Lauren Willis of the state comptroller’s office said it’s oil and gas related.

“The increase is due to large increases in taxable purchases reported by companies in the oil and gas industry,” she said.

State officials cannot disclose individual sales taxpayer information to the public, so that is as far as Willis could go.

The county’s windfall apparently has nothing to do with the $650,000 payback the state recently demanded from the city of Bridgeport due to an overpayment by a business there between 2005 and 2008. The city is still seeking additional information and weighing its options.

Willis did say that Bridgeport’s situation was also related to the oil and gas industry.

“The oil and gas industry is moving at such a torrid pace that the companies routinely accrue and pay tax on everything and then go back and re-evaluate the items for correct sales tax application later,” she noted. “This can result in companies filing for large refunds down the road. That is what happened in the Bridgeport situation.”

Meanwhile, the City of Bridgeport actually had a pretty good March.

The city took in $220,774 for the month, down just over 1 percent compared to last March. Bridgeport is still more than 21 percent behind last year’s pace but continues to budget sales tax revenue carefully to keep city operations on track.

In Decatur, the March payment was down 2.6 percent compared to last year, but the city is still up 2.4 percent compared to last year.

Rhome and New Fairview saw double-digit drops in March, but Boyd, Chico, Newark, Runaway Bay and Aurora were all up for the month.

For the year, in addition to Decatur, the cities of Rhome, Boyd, Chico, Alvord, Paradise, Runaway Bay and Aurora all show gains compared to last year.

Combined, however, the county’s 12 cities have collected 4.8 percent less in sales tax revenue this year. That’s a drop of almost $109,000.

Statewide, sales tax revenue grew for the 47th consecutive month.

“Sales tax revenue continues its growth streak,” Comptroller Susan Combs said. “Growth in tax collections was seen across all major economic sectors including oil and gas, wholesale trade and the services sector.”

Cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose districts collected a total of $553 million in March, up 4.1 percent compared to March 2013.

The March sales tax figures represent January sales reported by monthly tax filers.

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Bridgeport sales tax numbers not the whole story

The second set of sales tax numbers for 2014 went public Wednesday – and they don’t look great for the city of Bridgeport.

Bridgeport took in $228,332 from the sales tax in February, down nearly 30 percent from last year’s $323,256. After two months, the city already trails last year’s collections by $170,248 or 28.7 percent.

But those numbers don’t tell the whole story.

It’s difficult to pinpoint what’s behind the two-year sales tax decline in Wise County’s second-largest market. By law, the state can’t reveal the numbers for individual businesses, although a spokesman in the Comptroller’s office said most of the February decrease was attributable to two companies that reported lower sales tax on purchases or sales compared to the same time last year.

We can, however, illustrate how the city budgets sales tax revenue to deal with the shortfall.

For starters, the city only gets 1 cent of that 1.5-cent sales tax. A half-cent goes to the Economic Development Corp. (EDC).

It also helps to understand that the city’s budget is written based on a fiscal year that starts in October. If you reach back and take in the last three months of 2013, things look much better this fiscal year because November and December were strong months.

But City Administrator Brandon Emmons said, given the declining trend, the city budgeted a 15-percent decline in sales tax revenue this year.

Consequently, through five months the city is actually ahead of budget.

“Right now, for the fiscal year, we’ve actually met or exceeded our projected amounts in every month except for the last month, when we were under budget by $15,000,” he said. “Through five months of this fiscal year, we’re about $15,000 a month ahead of budget.

“We budgeted $145,000 a month, and we’re averaging $158,000 so far.”

Emmons said sales tax money goes into the city’s general fund, which supports the police department, city hall, the library, parks and streets. The city’s other big functions – water, wastewater and electricity – are managed separately and funded by the revenue they generate.

They don’t depend on sales taxes at all.

And while sales taxes fund 34 percent of that general fund budget, the city’s total budget for FY 2013-2014 is $22.424 million. Sales taxes make up less than 10 percent of the overall budget.

So, despite the dire numbers, Bridgeport is OK.

“With the trends we’ve identified and the arrangements we’ve made, we’re doing fine from an operational standpoint,” Emmons said.

He also noted that the city has contingency policies, adopted annually as part of the budget, that specify how administration will respond to drops in sales tax revenue.

“We have those policies built-in, but we don’t expect to have to do that this year because we’ve already accounted for that in the budget,” he said.

February sales tax figures represent December sales reported by monthly tax filers, as well as October, November and December sales by businesses that report quarterly.

It’s likely the major ice storm early in December cut into businesses’ Christmas sales throughout the county, even in cities that saw a gain.

Bridgeport, New Fairview, Chico and Newark all saw declines in sales tax revenue through the February reporting period. The county’s other eight cities saw increases – from Decatur’s 4.4 to 40 percent in Lake Bridgeport, 29 percent in Paradise, 28 percent in Rhome, 27 percent in Alvord and 24 percent in Aurora.

The county’s half-cent sales tax brought in $477,666 – up nearly 10 percent compared to a year ago. That left the county trailing last year by just 3.4 percent after two months.

Statewide, sales tax revenue in January was $2.3 billion, up 8.3 percent compared to January 2013.

State Comptroller Susan Combs said sales tax revenue has increased statewide for 46 consecutive months.

Sales Tax

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Bridgeport, Chico finish ’13 strong

When the final sales tax numbers came in for 2013, 10 Wise County cities showed a gain – and the two that didn’t showed signs of a turnaround.

Of all the cities that collect a sales tax, only Bridgeport and Chico ended 2013 with a loss compared to 2012. Bridgeport was down $230,391 – just under 7 percent – while Chico fell short by $34,785 or 12.2 percent.

But just two months ago, Bridgeport was in a 9.8-percent hole. The city’s losses moderated over the last few months, and December brought a gain of 23 percent over the same month the previous year.

Bridgeport’s 1.5-cent sales tax brought in $343,303 this month, up from $297,144 last year.

The trend is encouraging.

Up in Chico, the sales tax went from $19,927 last December to $25,850 this December – a gain of nearly 30 percent. Over the past four months, the city’s deficit has narrowed from 19 percent to 12.2 percent.

The county’s other 10 cities collected over $300,000 more in 2013 than they did the previous year. Factor out Bridgeport and Chico, and they gained a respectible 5.7 percent compared to 2012.

Decatur had the biggest gain, dollar-wise, at $91,560 or 2.34 percent. New Fairview picked up $65,000 additional dollars from its sales tax and Boyd saw an additional $56,786 added to its coffers – with both cities’ gains topping 21 percent.

Paradise had a 42.8 percent gain and pocketed $33,155 more than last year, and Aurora, with growth of 97 percent, boosted its sales tax earnings from $23,419 last year to $46,193 this year.

Altogether, Wise County’s 12 cities were up $36,024 from last year – less than one-half of one percent.

The county’s half-cent sales tax yielded nearly $4.9 million, but that was down 4.3 percent compared to last year’s $5.1 million.

Statewide, 1,145 cities collected $4.7 billion in sales taxes, up 6.13 percent – more than $273 million – over 2012.

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs said December was the 44th straight month in which sales tax revenue was up.

“State sales tax revenue continues to grow at a moderate pace as expected,” Combs said. “Revenue from sectors such as wholesale trade, services industries and restaurants contributed to the most recent increase.”

The December sales tax figures represent October sales reported by monthly tax filers.

Sales Tax December

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