Sales tax revenues for May are down across the Golden Triangle, compared to last year’s revenues for the same month.
Columbus’ sales tax revenues for the month, which were collected in March, are down $5,309 from last year. The city received $900,223 this month, compared to $905,532 last year.
Taxes run on a three-month process, where they are collected one month, sent to the state Department of Revenue the next and then distributed to municipalities.
The drop continues a trend for Columbus’ Fiscal Year 2018 — which began in October — where the city is down $121,076 from the same point in FY 2017.
Columbus has taken in $6,455,835 in sales tax collections so far this fiscal year. At the same point in last year, the city had received in $6,576,911 in sales tax revenue.
Still, Columbus is coming off of its two strongest sales tax collection years on record. Ward 3 Councilman Charlie Box said it’s worth keeping an eye on the sales tax figures, but they aren’t a cause for concern yet.
“I feel pretty good about it,” he said. “It’s one of those things that’s hard to know, because we don’t really get a good break down (from the Department of Revenue) of where it’s all at. I think you’d have to look over three or four years to begin to worry about it.
“We believe that our ad valorem (revenue) will be up, so that will offset any shortage we have in sales,” he added. “We’ll find out about that later in the fall.”
Ad valorem tax revenue is based on the assessed value of real and personal property.
Still, Box said he has some concerns about next fiscal year, with the loss of the city’s restaurant tax after legislators failed to bring it up for renewal during the session. He said the loss of funding for tourism advertising and events could have a negative impact on the city’s other sales tax collections.
“Tourism is a big part of sales tax, and that could hit us pretty hard,” he said. “I don’t think that will happen until later when that money runs out. I’m a little concerned about what will happen when that money goes away–I’m afraid it’s going to hit us.”
Starkville’s sales tax collections for March were also down compared to last year, but the city is holding relatively steady in collections overall.
Starkville received $623,938 in sales tax revenue, compared to $635,535 last year — down more than $11,000.
Year-to-date, the city is down $16,408. Starkville has received $4,714,688 in sales tax revenue this fiscal year, compared to $4,731,096 at the same point last fiscal year.
Mayor Lynn Spruill said she’s confident the city will continue to stay relatively even, or possibly see some growth, by the end of the fiscal year based on recent trends. Starkville has seen growth in sales tax collections every year going back to Fiscal Year 2009, and that year was only down about $4,000 from the previous year.
“I always prefer to see some level of growth, because obviously, that’s to our benefit long-term for the things that we can do,” she said. “I’m expecting that … by the end of the year, we’ll have a better sense of where things stand. I’ve tried to predict through the years what direction we’re going month-to-month and you can’t — you almost have to do it on an annual basis.”
Still, Starkville is the only one of the Golden Triangle’s three main cities that’s held close to even year-to-date. Spruill said she believes that speaks well of Starkville.
“I think it says that our focus on issues that are people-oriented and about quality of life that bring people into town and make them want to stay in town are paying off,” she said.
West Point’s sales tax revenue for the month are down $3,178.
West Point receives $178,313 in revenue this month, compared to $181,491 for the same month last year, according to the Department of Revenue. The city’s collections for the year are down, at $1,641,442 year-to-date, compared to $1,728,708 for the same point last year — a difference of $87,266. West Point’s FY18 is almost over, as the city runs on a July 1-June 30 fiscal calendar.
West Point Mayor Robbie Robinson said he’s still comfortable with his city’s financial position, and noted that its revenues for the fiscal year have been hampered by an $18,300 per month reduction imposed by the Department of Revenue to compensate for an overpayment.
Robinson said he also believes West Point’s future is bright, with recent developments such as Peco Foods announcing a new processing facility in the future.
“Things like that sure do help,” he said. “I’m absolutely more confident about our future.”
Alex Holloway was formerly a reporter with The Dispatch.
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