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Regional sales tax collections steady

The Commercial Dispatch

Sales tax collections are holding relatively steady in the Golden Triangle.

Columbus was the only of the region's three major cities to see growth in sales tax revenue received from the Mississippi Department of Revenue. 

The city got $827,363 for sales tax collected in September.  

Cities receive sales tax revenue from the state Department of Revenue two months after it's collected. 

Last year, Columbus drew in $778,055 in November. The city saw a record year of collections last year, and pulled in more than $10 million for the first time ever. 

So far, the city has pulled in $49,611 more in sales tax revenue for the first two months of fiscal year 2017, which started Oct. 1, than at the same time for the record-breaking fiscal year 2016. 

Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Nancy Carpenter said Columbus hosted dozens of events between September and October, including three conventions. 

Those events, coupled with college and high school football games, help draw people to the city, which in turn helps push up sales tax. 

"When you've got people who are normally not in town -- and we're talking about 50 to 200 people staying a couple of days -- that makes a difference," Carpenter said. "I think there's a lot of excitement in Columbus because there's so much activity." 

 

Starkville 

Starkville saw a slight decline in monthly sales tax revenue.  

This year, the city got $560,355 -- about $3,000 less than the $563,469 received in November 2015. 

Still, the city's sales tax revenue is off to a more robust fiscal year 2017 than fiscal year 2016, thanks to strong collections taken in August and received in October. 

So far, Starkville has collected $1.13 million in sales tax for this fiscal year. At the same time last year, the city had collected $1.11 million. 

Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman said the city's collections are continuing to grow. 

"We continue to see a strong trend in both general sales tax and 2 percent food and beverage tax growth," Wiseman said. "That helps us from a revenue standpoint. It also points to a local economy that continues to gain steam." 

Wiseman said The Mill at MSU conference center, which opened last year, has pulled more tourism to the city, and he said continued retail expansion has created more shopping opportunities. 

"Tourism is a major driver of sales tax growth because it brings people into the community as consumers who may not have been there previously," he said. "Retail expansion offers more consumer options locally and draws shoppers from surrounding areas." 

 

West Point 

West Point is lagging slightly behind in both annual and monthly sales tax collections. 

West Point received $198,736 in revenue this month from September sales. In 2015, West Point got $203,118. 

For its fiscal year, which started on July 1, West Point has pulled in $1.012 million in sales tax revenue. At the same time last year, the city had received $1.019 million. 

Mayor Robbie Robinson said he's confident the city will catch up to last fiscal year's collections. 

"We're slightly behind last year at this period of time," he said. "I don't know what to attribute that to, but it's a small percentage." 

Robinson said a Love's Truck Stop, which is scheduled to open in the spring and a strong holiday season could help the city catch up to or even surpass last year's sales tax collections. 

"We had a really big Christmas open house here on Sunday -- one of the best we've had in a while," he said. "That's probably a precursor to a good holiday season for our downtown merchants."

 

November 17, 2016 10:52:46 AM

Alex Holloway - aholloway@cdispatch.com

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