Sales tax figures fall slightly

June 18, 2013 10:47:30 AM



For the eighth straight month, Columbus sales tax revenue is down from last year, but collections for the month of June are only down $2,306.51 from June 2012. 


Collections were $726,302.73, a 1 percent decrease from June 2012's $728,609.24 total. The slight downtick fares better in comparison to this past May, when collections were down more than $28,000 from that month last year and in February, where totals were down more than $40,000. 


This month's total brings the nine-month sum so far this fiscal year to $6,493,807.28 -- a $165,273.52 or 2.48 percent dip from this point in 2012. 


Two-percent hotel tax returns were $23,081.15 -- up $5,513.97 from this month last year. Restaurant tax returns were $133,414.46, down $6,647.80 from May 2012's $140,062.26 total. 


In whole, the city has collected $254,673.50 in hotel taxes and $1,455.017.78 in restaurant collections this fiscal year. 


Tax distributions received by municipalities in June reflect money collected by local businesses in April. 


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. 


Two-percent restaurant tax collections fund the Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau.  


The two-percent hotel tax is used to maintain the Trotter Convention Center.  


Chief financial officer Milton Rawle said without more detailed information, it's difficult to justify what the numbers represent. 


"It's not as bad as it has been, but we can't tell why the numbers are what they are," Rawle said. "It's promising, but we still have three months in the year to go, and depending on the activity that we have going on, I'm not going to say whether the numbers will go up or down because I really don't know." 




Starkville numbers are up again 


The city of Starkville's 2 percent food and beverage tax returns jumped almost $20,000 in April, a spike which represents an almost 14 percent gain from last year's numbers. 


Starkville took in approximately $162,626.75 for April, a month which has only seen two-percent food and beverage tax returns dip twice from year to year since 2000. Last year, the city brought in almost $143,000 in the same month. 


April's two-percent returns mark the third of four calendar months in which the city has improved its returns compared to the previous year. The only decline -- February's .39 percent drop from 2012 -- still brought in more in food and beverage tax returns than January, the lowest recorded amount in 2013. 


Starkville is currently averaging $142,375.06 in collections for the calendar year, an amount which outpaces 2012's average of $125,092.61. So far, the city has collected $569,500.22 in two-percent returns this year. In 2012, Starkville collected approximately $1.5 million in food and beverage taxes. 


April restaurant tax numbers surpassed the previous month's returns by almost $20,000. March returns were influenced by the city's first Restaurant Week, which were the high water mark for two-percent returns for the year until April. Those numbers built upon a 5.29 percent increase from March 2012 to the third month of the year. 


A portion of the two-percent tax returns to the city, while the remainder is split between various organizations, including tourism initiatives, Starkville Parks and Recreation and Mississippi State University student programs. 


Overall sales tax collections, minus two-percent receipts, also increased in April compared to the same month last year. Starkville collected $489,209.65 in those returns, a .61 percent increase from April 2012. Previously, the April returns jumped about 6 percent from 2011 to 2012. April's returns mark the second-highest grossing month this calendar year, falling short of March's returns by almost $2,000. Comparatively, Starkville only recorded three months last year in which the city received more than $480,000 in a single month. 


After four months in 2013, the city is averaging $471,677.70 per month in overall sales tax returns, minus 2 percent receipts. That figure improves upon 2012's $470,133.21 average. The city has seen only one month of decline this year compared to 2012's numbers: a .89 percent drop in February's numbers as compared to the previous year's February returns. 




Collections sag in West Point 


The latest reported West Point collections saw a more significant drop. The city reports collections of $155,976.44 for May 2013 -- down nearly $17,000 from May 2012's $172,713.88 total.  


Tourism tax collections were also down. Last month's total was $17,453.76 -- down nearly $3,000 from $20,331.32 in May 2012.