City sales tax collections up at last

July 20, 2013 6:03:23 PM

Nathan Gregory - [email protected]


Columbus sales tax receipts for this month are up $17,330.92 from last July, ending a string of eight months where collections were down. 


The city received $734,443.80 this month. The collection in July 2012 was $717,112.88. This is the first month collections have been up since January. 


This month's total brings the 10-month sum so far in Fiscal Year 2013 to $7,228,251.08. In order to match FY 2012's total of $8,776,381.04, the city would have to achieve revenues of $1,548,129.96, an average of $774,064.98 per month. 


Through 10 months last year, the city reported collections of $7,376,193.68, which is $147,943.60 more than the 10-month mark this year. 


Motel and restaurant collections saw mixed results. Restaurant collections were $135,615.89, an $8,428.52 increase from last July. Motel collections were down $3,671.45. Revenues totaled $23,062.72 compared to $26,734.17 in July 2012. 


Columbus Chief Operations Officer David Armstrong said while one month isn't an indicator of what the results will be for the last two months of the year, the July totals show promise. 


"All you have to do is drive around town and you'll see every restaurant in town is busy. Even with all the restaurants here, it's indicative that people are coming here to eat," he said. "The trend has been down and now we're up. It could be the trend remains up, but there's no way to predict that. It makes it difficult as you budget. We will probably a little more conservative next year in budgeting for sales tax and hope for the best." 




Starkville collections remain strong 


For the tenth straight month, Starkville collections are up. July 2013 revenues totaled $469,209.69, eclipsing the previous July's by $26,218.63. Starkville totals are categorized in calendar years, meaning a total of $2,355,920.49 has been collected over the first five months, as July revenue totals reflect money collected by local businesses in May. 


Through five months in the calendar year, the monthly average collection is $471,184.10, more than $1,000 more than 2012's monthly average of $470,133.21. If that average holds, the city its poised to once again break its own yearly collection record as it has in the previous three years. 


Two-percent restaurant revenues are also on the rise. The city reported $132,121.44 this month, a $13,583.23 advantage over July 2012's $118,538.21. The monthly average collection of $140,324.33 bests last year's by more than $15,000. 


City chief administrative officer Lynn Spruill said she looks forward to the next several months being equally as growth-oriented, particularly with the advent of Mississippi State University students coming back into town next month. 


"We will have all of the attendant population growth that comes with school being back in session in the first part of August, which includes all of September, October and all of football season, so I think we're on track for a really nice sales tax year," Spruill said. "When the sales tax generally ends up reflecting well, the two-percent (restaurant tax) follows along with it. There are not that many times when they're too different. All of it means we've got people in town who are enjoying our sights and activities." 




West Point totals down slightly 


Revenues in West Point didn't see the same jump. Sales tax collections in July were $176,137.42, a $5,431.01 fall from the previous July's $181,568.43. 


Tourism taxes also declined slightly. The city received $18,456.95 in tourism tax revenues collected by businesses in May this month. That's a decrease of $3,239.08 from the same month in 2012. 


The Mississippi Department of Revenue collects 81.5 percent of the seven-percent sales tax from municipalities and distributes the remaining 18.5 percent back to the municipalities over a three-month cycle. 




July Sales Tax collections 






July 2013 July 2012 Difference 


$734,443.80 $717,112.88 + $17,330.92 






July 2013 July 2012 Difference 


$469,209.62 $469,209.69 + $26,218.63 




West Point 


July 2013 July 2012 Difference 


$176,137.42 $181,568.43 - $5,431.01 


Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.