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Sales tax end on sour note

For the third straight month, sluggish economic times continuedto impact Brookhaven as the city’s December 2002 sales taxcollections trailed those of the same period in 2001, according tostatistics from the state Tax Commission.

Collections for the 2002 Christmas month topped the $300,000plateau, reaching $319,301.86, but still trailed the $328,923.66collected in December 2001.

“The last three months have been tough for us,” said ChandlerRuss, executive vice-president of the Brookhaven-Lincoln CountyChamber of Commerce.

The total for the last month of 2002 placed Brookhaven justoutside the state’s Top 20 collectors at number 21. Brookhaven wasnot alone in declining revenue as about half of the Top 20 sawsmaller figures in December 2002 than in 2001, Russ said.

“It’s not just a local phenomenon. It’s something across thestate as we’re seeing very little sales tax increase,” Russsaid.

In year-to-date totals, which began in July, Brookhavencollections at the end of 2002 were $1,889,475.43. The city hadtaken in $1,931,559.76 at the same point in 2001.

“We’re hoping things pick up nationally to help consumers, andespecially locally, feel better about spending money,” Russsaid.

Russ said the latest sales tax totals were not something to beproud of, but there were other communities in similar or worsesituations. He said Brookhaven has a resilient economy, and he wasconfident it would rebound.

“We’re going to continue to plug away, and we’re hopeful thelocal economy will eventually start to level off,” Russ said.

In other parts of southwest Mississippi, McComb collectionsclimbed to $378,657.94 in December sales tax. The December 2002total, which placed the city 18th in the state, represented anincrease of about $6,000 from the December 2001 total of$372,778.54.

In year-to-date totals, McComb had $2,138,290.63 in 2002 and$2,128,869.43 in 2001.

Also in Pike County, Summit businesses gathered $14,371.08 inDecember sales tax, a decrease from last December’s $16,845.47. Forthe years-to-date, the town’s 2002 total was $100,252.36, about$15,000 below 2001’s $115,387.22.

In Lawrence County, Monticello merchants took in $31,390.05 forthe city’s share of December 2002 sales tax, a decline fromDecember 2001’s $34,091.34. The city’s 2002 year-to-date totalcontinued to be a little off pace: $191,892.49 this year and$185,195.41 last year.

Wesson businesses’ December sales tax collections were downalmost 25 percent to $7,943.96, compared to $10,542.06 lastDecember. Its year-to-date total remained behind the previousyear’s pace with $54,487.97 this year and $60,579.39 last year.

To the west in Franklin County, Bude businesses rang up$7,384.92 for the town, a decrease compared to December 2001’s$8,499.71. For 2002, its yearly total was $46,026.39 and $50,722.62in 2001.

Meadville merchants took in $8,629.07 in December 2002, a smallincrease from December 2001 with $8,166.92. Yearly totals show thetown with $48,226.11 in 2002 collections and $48,294.02 in 2001collections.