Back-to-school good for most cities

Staff Writer

August was a good month for West Point and Columbus, but not so much for Starkville.

But overall, retail sales across North Mississippi bounced back from a flat July to a more robust month with back-to-school spending, according to the latest numbers from the state Department of Revenue.

Overall, taxes collected on August retail sales were up in 56 of 95 communities across the region compared to the same month last year. West Point and Columbus were among the major retail centers that saw increases. Tupelo, Booneville, Corinth, Grenada, Louisville, New Albany, Oxford and Pontotoc all saw higher revenues as well.

Amory and Philadelphia joined Starkville among the top 15 retail centers that saw lower year-over-year revenues.

Because of delays in collections and reporting, October revenues reflect taxes collected in August. Businesses collect taxes at the time of the sale and turn those taxes over to the state the next month. The state then returns 18.5 percent of those revenues to the city where they are collected.

In Columbus, where revenues have been on a two-year roller coaster, the city took in $808,523 from August retail sales taxes. That was up from $785,034 last year.

In the three months since July, the city’s overall revenues are down $10,000 compared to the previous year. That illustrates the pattern of small increases and decreases the city has seen since 2016.

Starkville’s revenues fell slightly from $619,025 last year to $615,513 this month. Since July, the city’s revenues are $900 below last year.

Meanwhile, West Point’s revenues rose $161,522 last year to $171,564. For the three months since July, revenues are up by about $3,000.

The increases are good news for the city which has seen its revenues lag behind for the last two years as it works to repay an overpayment made by the state.

Any increase over the previous year is good news for the city because it means it is making its loan payments and still exceeding the prior year revenues. The repayment ends next June.

Statewide, sales tax revenues were up 3.5 percent. In North Mississippi, the overall number was slightly higher.