Sales tax great local news

Published 6:00 am Monday, November 24, 2008

While news on the state, national and world economic front istroublesome, in these days when consumers react by tightening theirpocketbooks, there is some positive local news that should bepointed out. With recent sales tax reports from the Mississippi TaxCommission, Brookhaven ranks at the top in Mississippi inpercentage growth in sales tax receipts over the past year.

Within Mississippi’s largest 25 cities in retail sales taxcollections for the four-month period ending October, Brookhavenhas a 6.84 percent increase over the same period last year – thesecond highest increase in the group. We were edged out slightly byour neighbor to the west Natchez, who showed a 7.49 percentincrease. Statewide the average was a negative .09 percent.

For the record, our September and October sales tax numbers havebeen skewed due an adjustment for an audit discrepancy discoveredin August. But the fact remains our total sales numbers are upsignificantly over last year.

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While our friends in McComb also saw an increase, their salestrailed ours at 2.74 percent over the same period. Added together,Southwest Mississippi showed a strong surge leading many otherregions of the state.

While some of this increase can be attributed to the inflow ofvisitors during Hurricane Gustav, it still represents a bright spotin our part of the state on otherwise nationally dismal economicnews.

What makes this particularly interesting for Brookhaven is thatthese numbers for the first time in a year are comparingpost-annexation numbers, which is an indicator of the strength ofour local economy. For the past year Brookhaven has seen increasesover 2007, but those increases were due to the additional sales taxreceipts of businesses located outside the old city limits prior toannexation. These current comparisons are of like sales – thus nolonger inflated.

While the current national economic concerns are very real andthe result of past overspending due to lax credit and pooroversight by regulators and politicians, much of our economy runson emotion – if the public feels positive they tend to open theirpocketbooks. As one listens to the repetition and discussion of thesame bad economic news over and over again that the 24-hour cableand radio talk shows tend to do each day, the national mood becomesworse and the downward spiral continues. No doubt as a nation wehave to learn to live within our economic means, but finding amidpoint where moods change is when we will see the economy beginto balance back and jobs return.

Which brings us to the unscientific poll The DAILY LEADERpublishes each week. We asked a pointed question last week on theopinion of readers on the proposed bailout of the Big Threeautomakers being discussed in Washington. While national publicsentiment appears strongly against the bailout, we were curious ifthe question were localized what the sentiment might be. SinceBrookhaven is the home to a major supplier to the automotiveindustry – Delphi – we wondered if the mood might be a bit moreneutral.

It was not. Our readers, in our unscientific poll, said theywere very strongly opposed to the bailout – 76.5 percent to 17.4percent, with 6.2 percent undecided. Obviously people are angry -very angry at the current national economic situation.

In the meantime, we will hang our hats on some positive localeconomic news. Leading the state in specific economic numbers isalways good news, but in these tough economic times it isphenomenal news!

Write to Bill Jacobs at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven MS 39602,or send e-mail to