Willis Bonner, of Columbus, takes his change for his coffee from cashier Yolanda Walker at the Riverhill Chevron in downtown Columbus Wednesday. December 2012 sales tax receipts were down $14,000 from those collected in December 2011. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff
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December 20, 2012 10:06:56 AM
For the second month in a row, sales tax receipts are down for Columbus. According to Chief Financial Officer Mike Bernsen, the city's sales tax check for the month of December is down almost $14,000 from December 2011. That figure represents sales for the month of October.
"We received a check from Jackson for the month of December for $683,000," Bernsen said. "This is about $14,000 less than it was in December 2011. The November sales tax numbers came in about $25,000 less than last year." November's check represents September's sales.
Bernsen said the two-percent restaurant tax money used to fund the Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau was also down for December.
"The state cuts a separate check for the two percent restaurant money and the two percent tax on hotels," Bernsen said. "The money the CVB gets for December is about $111,000, which is down about $17,000 from December of last year. The hotel tax money, which is used for the upkeep of the Trotter Convention Center, is up about $2,000 from 2011."
"CVB treasurer Bart Wise is watching the trends very closely," CVB Executive Director Nancy Carpenter said. "At this time, we are not going to have to adjust or amend the budget. If you notice, the hotel returns are up. This is a result of the Crappie Masters national tournament we hosted. This event filled the hotel rooms of Columbus. We think these people were eating in our restaurants but the local people were eating at home more. This shows that these events are making an impact on the local economy."
The December sales tax figures, Bernsen said, reflect consumer spending during the month of October.
"The sales tax money is spent by the consumer in October," Bernsen said. "Then, the retailer pays the money to the state in November and the state pays the municipalities in December."
With the sales tax money reflecting a three-month cycle, February 2013 should be a big month for sales tax revenues as merchants are reporting a strong holiday shopping season.
"We should see a nice spike in the February returns," Bernsen said. "Historically, February is the largest sales tax month of the year because it's money that was spent in December."
Although the Mississippi Department of Revenue has not posted results for December, Starkville sales tax collections for November were down almost $10,000 from November 2011 and West Point collections were up almost $4,000 over the previous year.
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