Sales tax revenues good news for cities

Steve Rogers
Staff Writer

From $7 in Shuqualak to $109,000 in Tupelo, sales tax revenues across North Mississippi rose more than 3.5 percent this month compared to last year across Northeast Mississippi.

Overall, revenues were up in 52 of 92 cities across the region compared to the same month last year. That is good news for cities because March sales tax revenues reflect taxes paid of January retail sales. January traditionally is a slow month for retail sales in the region and tax revenues often only break even with the previous year.

For the region, the overall increase was 3.59 percent.

Sales tax revenues make up from 30 to 45 percent of most cities' operating budgets.

Of the 15 major retail centers across the region, only Louisville experienced a decline from last year. Starkville’s 10.28 percent gain over last year was among the largest.

The city’s revenues were $581,714, up from $527,471 a year ago. Columbus increased to $718,119 from $701,620 last year.

West Point’s revenues rose 2.28 percent from $139,493 to $142,675.

The increase was the fourth straight for Columbus after almost two years of most flat revenues. It comes as the city is struggling to make up an $880,000 budget deficit last year and pay for clean up from an EF-3 tornado that carved a path across the city Feb. 23.

”It’s not big, but it is important. It’s a sign things are getting better. I’d rather have steady gains each month than big ups and downs,” Columbus City Councilman Bill Gavin said of the 2.3 percent increase.

The growth in the last few months have all but erased a shortfall since last July.

“It’s important for the city going forward for it to continue, especially with what we are dealing with from the storm clean up,” Gavin added.