Columbus and Starkvilles’ yearly sales tax collections are up 3 and 7 percent, respectively, from the 2021 fiscal year, while West Point lags behind both year to year and its current fiscal year-to-date, according to a report by the Mississippi Department of Revenue.
Columbus received $898,820 in September sales tax diversions from the MDR. That is up $24,511 from the same period last year.
Sales tax diversions run on a three-month window, where they are collected one month, sent to the MDR the next, and then distributed to cities. Therefore, September collections generally reflect sales from July.
The city has collected $10,891,050 this fiscal year— which ends Friday— compared to $10,565,302 at the same time last year. Despite the improvement, September collections were down $49,406 from August ($948,226), marking the fourth year collections have fallen from August to September.
The city already exceeded its current fiscal year sales tax projection of $9.6 million. Chief Operations Officer Jammie Garrett told The Dispatch she doesn’t know why sales tax collections would be down from the previous month (August).
“I know they (sales tax collections) are up compared to last year, but I’m not certain why it would be down in July (when sales tax is collected by the state),” Garrett said. “Because I’m just thinking about the holidays and other functions that we had in July.”
The city’s 2-percent restaurant tax collection showed growth. The city received $188,348 in September collections, compared to $186,178 in September 2021. The city has received $2,154,024 in the 2022 fiscal year, compared to 2,077,418 in 2021.
The city’s 2-percent hotel tax also improved, collecting $32,890 in September, compared to $30,292 in September 2021. Columbus has received $360,292 for the current fiscal year, compared to $288,056 in 2021.
Starkville has also seen an increase in its fiscal year collections. The city collected $8,682,689 this year, earning $602,273 more than at the end of the 2021 fiscal year (8,080,416).
The city collected $671,398 in general sales tax in September, a 4.3-percent decrease from $700,669 in September 2021. Sales tax also fell 2.9-percent from August ($691,466).
The city reached its goal of the $8.6 million budgeted for the 2022 fiscal year. Mayor Lynn Spruill told The Dispatch the city has budgeted $9.3 million in general sales tax collections for the 2023 fiscal year. She also said the city is watching monthly collections closely as it moves into the new fiscal year on Oct. 1.
“We projected it up some, which is a normal trend for us,” Spruill said. “We’re going to watch it closely because if it doesn’t get trimmed up, we’re going to have to manage our budget and see what we need to do to offset that. So it’ll be a constant management process.”
Spruill also said she thinks the drop in collections might coincide with the lack of students during the summer months in Starkville.
“I’m guessing that because the students were out of town, those months are the lower months,” Spruill said.
According to figures released with its sales tax numbers, the city’s 2-percent restaurant and 1-percent hotel/motel sales tax have also improved.
The city collected $213,263 in restaurant sales tax revenue in September, showing a 4-percent improvement from $204,730 collected in September 2021. The city’s 2022 fiscal year collections ended at $2,711,986, showing a 13.3-percent improvement to $2,373,346 collected in the 2021 fiscal year.
The city’s hotel/motel tax collection sits at $16,394 in September, compared to $13,805 at the same time last year. The city has collected $202,473 in the 2022 fiscal year, showing a 46.3-percent improvement from the $126,291 collected in fiscal year 2021.
West Point collected $178,253 in September from July sales, showing a 0.5-percent decrease from $179,157 in September 2021.
West Point’s current fiscal-year-to-date tax diversions are $550,762, which shows a 5.8-percent decrease from $583,430 collected in fiscal year 2021.
Collections are also down from August ($182,028) by 2.1-percent, marking the third consecutive year sales tax diversions fell from August to September.
Mayor Rod Bobo told The Dispatch that the collection dip results from people leaving town and taking vacations during summer.
“I think that’s probably a heavy travel month,” Bobo said. “That may or may not be contributing to the numbers.”
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