Dec. sales tax numbers lower than expected

Published 6:00 am Thursday, January 22, 2009

Waning car sales are still a major reason for Brookhaven’s lowDecember sales tax numbers, officials said, but there is still hopeon the horizon as holiday retail and an uptick in national carsales are soon to come into effect.

Brookhaven’s tax numbers for December were substantially lowerthan the city’s expected monthly budget of $425,000, coming in at$395,611.54. While the numbers for this fiscal year haveconsistently been above those of last year, December’s check for2007 was $423,440.37.

Mayor Bob Massengill said the lower numbers will need to betaken into consideration as city officials mull municipalexpenditures.

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“We need to be realistic on where we stand revenue-wise, becauseour sales tax numbers just came in and we didn’t achieve budget,”he said. “For part of this year we’ve averaged around $428,000, sowe’re above for the last few months, but the last two months we’veaveraged $406,000. That’s $19,000 to $20,000 less than webudgeted.”

Meanwhile, other southwest Mississippi cities of similar sizeare looking at rises in tax income, with McComb coming in at$456,610.79, up around $6,000 from 2007, and Natchez just toppingthat at $457,276.28. Natchez saw a substantial jump from lastyear’s numbers, as their December 2007 check was for$419,632.92.

Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce Executive VicePresident Cliff Brumfield said Brookhaven’s slump is the result ofthe economy’s impact on car sales.

“Our numbers for this month reflect the same lack of sales inour largest retail tax-generating sector, that being car sales,” hesaid, adding that auto dealers have reported a slight rise in salesin recent weeks in addition to the Christmas holiday traffic.

“These numbers will show a jump in December and January sales,”he said.

Meanwhile Brookhaven did surpass Madison’s $358,265.97 in theDecember sales tax report, a fact that Brumfield said ispromising.

“If you compare our numbers to other communities such asMadison, you’ll find that many other communities known for theirprosperity are also feeling the pinch,” he said. “I don’t believethat our numbers being behind some of our neighboring cities is abad thing right now.”

But the concern still remains that the city budget counts on$425,000 in sales each month. Massengill said city officials willneed to stay vigilant in keeping an eye on the sales taxnumbers.

“We need to take that into consideration, so we’ll want to becareful about expenditures,” he said.

For that reason, Brumfield said, now is as important a time asever for Brookhaven residents to remember that their money benefitslocal businesses when they shop at home.

“Now is the time to strongly consider making all our majorpurchases at home where it will make the most difference,” hesaid.

Corinth, a similarly-sized city in north Mississippi,experienced an upswing in tax numbers from last year, with$469,496.76 as opposed to last year’s $452,256.18.

But Oxford and Starkville, both college towns, have marked lowerDecember numbers than last year.

Oxford’s $483,382.52 is down from 2007’s $492,110.73.Starkville, whose sales tax is usually comparable to Brookhaven’s,dropped from $418,301.57 in 2007 to this year’s $403,287.62.