City sales tax returns see October slide

Published 6:00 am Friday, November 24, 2006

Following a couple of months of slow sales tax returns,community officials are urging citizens to shop locally during theholiday season and the rest of the year.

“What I feel we need to do is encourage folks to shop at homeall year, but especially during the holidays,” said Mayor BobMassengill. “That is tremendously important not only to themerchants, but to the city itself.”

Brookhaven’s share of sales tax in October was down for thesecond straight month and the city slipped to 27th statewide,according to totals from the state Tax Commission.

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Last month, Brookhaven took in $357,770.80, a drop of more than$100,000 from October 2005’s $464,719.33. The monthly drop nearlywiped out fiscal year growth the city has seen: $1,549,985.25 in2006 and $1,547,161.23 in 2005.

“Several factors are influencing these numbers,” said CliffBrumfield, Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce executivevice-president.

First, Brumfield said, last year’s October total was affected bybuilding supplies and other purchases in the aftermath of HurricaneKatrina. There were also great incentives to spur automobilepurchases last year.

“A large portion of our sales tax comes from automobile sales,”Brumfield said.

Not factoring in October 2005’s Katrina-influenced numbers,Brookhaven’s share of sales tax was up about $12,000 over October2004’s $345,635.55.

Regarding the importance of sales tax, Massengill pointed out itaccounts for about 57 percent of the city’s budget.

“If we don’t count grants, almost $3 out of every $5 comes fromsales tax,” the mayor said.

Both Massengill and Brumfield were optimistic sales tax totalswould rebound in the coming months. The mayor mentioned increasedtraffic on the streets and in the stores.

“I look around town and it seems like it is pretty busy,”Massengill said.

Brumfield mentioned conversations with local merchants who hadreported better sales activity in recent days.

“I believe we’ll see an increase in the coming months,”Brumfield said.