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Sales tax slightly down, still on pace to eclipse FY '13 total


Nathan Gregory



Columbus sales tax disbursements are down slightly this month compared to February 2013. 


Recent data shows the city received $854,934.60 in sales tax revenues, which is down just over $4,000 from the $859,109.94 collected this month last year. Through five months of the current fiscal year, the city has received about $3,670,030 in diversions from the Mississippi Department of Revenue. That's an average of $734,006 a month, which outpaces the $718,682 monthly average for the city's 2012-13 fiscal year. 


The city budgeted a 12-month total of $8.5 million when it passed this year's fiscal budget in September. 


Starkville, which marks the start of its yearly collection period in January and marks its returns for the month businesses collect taxes, has broken its yearly record for the fourth straight time. The city collected $5,842,015.55 in 2013, eclipsing 2012's $5,641,598.48 total. That's an average of $486,834.63 a month. Helping reset that record was the city's strongest ever December collection total, which was $535,946,68.  


In West Point, collections were also up slightly. The city received $209,310.64 this month, which tops the $204,129.48 recorded in February 2013. West Point tabulates its yearly collection period beginning in May. Through eight months, the city has received $1,491,420.39. That's an average of $186,427.55 each month, well outpacing the $175,860.62 monthly average last fiscal year. 


The Mississippi Department of Revenue collects 81.5 percent of the 7 percent sales tax from municipalities and distributes the remaining 18.5 percent back to the municipalities over a three-month cycle. February reports reflect December 2013 collections. 


Columbus' motel tax returns, which pay for maintenance of the Trotter Convention Center, were also down slightly from February 2013. That month, a reported $15,141.70 was collected from local lodging establishments. This month the collection was $14,106.64, a $1,035.06 decline. 


Revenues from local restaurants were up more than $12,000 this month in Columbus. The latest collection reported is $136,312.18. In February 2013, that amount was $123,655.11. 


Starkville's 2 percent (restaurant and beverage) tax return was more than double the amount received this month last year. February returns from December collections equaled $14,112.61 compared to $6,843.04 this month in 2013, rounding the yearly total out at $165,736.17. That fell short of 2012's $171,597.92 total collection. 


After six straight months of decline in West Point's tourism tax returns, collections are up for the second straight month. A $17,736.65 total was disbursed from December collections. That amount was $15,723.21 this month last year.


Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.



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