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Low auto sales affect Nov. tax collections

City officials say Brookhaven’s sales tax numbers for Novemberhave taken a dip with the national and local economy, but saybetter times are on the horizon.

Brookhaven’s sales tax check came in at $415,398.60, a littlemore than $10,000 less than last November’s $425,466.35. Other areacities are up from the same time last year, but local officialslook to the recent dip in car sales as part of Brookhaven’sproblem.

“We’re continuing to see local sales tax numbers negativelyaffected by the lower than average car sales,” said BrookhavenLincoln County Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President CliffBrumfield. “These numbers represent the purchases made in October,a month usually much higher for the auto industries,”

In recent months, McComb, Natchez and Brookhaven have beenneck-and-neck in sales tax amounts, but those cities are not asaffected by the auto industry as Brookhaven tends to be, officialssaid.

McComb’s November check was $434,693.18 as compared to lastyear’s $407,231.07, and Natchez brought in $458,681.04 in sales taxfor October’s sales, as opposed to last year’s $428,367.65.

Brumfield said Brookhaven’s low totals should not strike fear inhearts of residents just yet. He said the Christmas season hasalready boosted car sales in the months since the numbers weretotaled.

“With lower auto sales not only locally but nationally, we’reseeing it reflected in sales tax,” Brumfield said. “But our salesin recent weeks have been much better and as the auto industryoffers more and more incentives which make this the best time everto buy a new automobile, we’ll see these numbers increase,especially with income tax due in upcoming weeks.”

Meanwhile, the city’s Shop At Home campaign is more importantnow than ever, Brumfield said.

“These totals also reinforce the need to buy locally and forlocal citizens to use their dollars and buying power to supportlocal businesses and industries just as their sales tax dollarssupport local essential services,” Brumfield said.

But in part, it’s already paying off. He said many localretailers are reporting better sales than past years for theholiday season.

“Some very good news came from several local retailers that sawrecord days the week before Christmas as many shoppers held back onbuying until the last minute,” he said. “The good thing is thatdollars are only held back so long before consumers have to makeimportant purchases such as automobiles.”

But Brumfield said coming months should show more positivetotals.

“The situation since October has gotten better and definitelyimproved,” he said. “We’re excited about the December numbers whichwe won’t hear about for another two months but based on reportsfrom retailers we expect them to be strong.”