Triangle, region see sales tax revenue increase

Staff Writer

Increases in the region’s biggest retail centers helped put some steam in the start of the Christmas shopping season in Northeast Mississippi.

New state figures show taxes collected on October retail sales were up in 54 of 92 towns across the region compared to the same month last year. Overall, collections were up about 4.4 percent across the region with Columbus, Starkville, West Point, Tupelo, and Oxford all seeing increases.

West Point had one of the biggest increases, surging 8.6 percent from $162,586 last year to $176,491 this year. It marked the seventh straight month of year-over-year increases, spelling good news for the city’s budget. The October increase also was among the biggest the city has seen during that stretch.

Because of how taxes are collected and distributed, sales tax revenues run two months behind, collected in the month of the sale and turned over to the state the next month. The state then turns 18.5 percent of the collections back to the city where it was collected.

Sales tax revenues are important because they often are an indicator of an area’s broad overall economic health.

They also make up about 40 percent of city operating budgets, making them critical to short- and long-term funding of city services.

Starkville’s revenues increased a more modest 2.8 percent from $579,095 to $595,426 but it keeps the city’s revenues on track to run ahead of the previous year.

Revenues were up 1.4 percent in Columbus from $763,564 to $773,916. The small increase continued the city’s roller coaster ride in tax collections, which actually are down slightly from July compared to the same period the previous year.

Tupelo’s numbers were up a 5.4 percent as it easily remained the region’s largest retail center. Oxford, which takes over the number two spot from Columbus during the fall football season, was up 5.6 percent and broke the $900,000 revenue mark for a month for the first time.