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March collections give city first sales tax increase of ’09

Brookhaven’s March 2009 sales tax numbers soared by $52,000 overMarch a year ago, but overall totals are still averaging about$13,000 less a month for the city’s budget, according to the latestMississippi Tax Commission totals.

Coming in at $401,984.14, March 2009’s sales topped March 2008’sby $52,274.31. March represented the first monthly sales taxincrease for the city since in late in 2008.

Mayor Bob Massengill said of 22 cities he regularly comparesBrookhaven’s sales tax dollars to, 18 were higher than last year’snumbers, and 16 did better than February’s numbers. Brookhaven wasranked sixth out of the 22 cities for March sales tax amounts,Massengill said.

“We were behind Oxford, McComb, Corinth, Starkville andNatchez,” he said. “And (Natchez’s) sales tax collections were onlyabout $1,100 more than Brookhaven.”

Oxford brought in $462,076.50 for March, followed by McComb at$447,281.18. Corinth received a check for $434,971.10, Starkville’swas $422,317.42, and Natchez put $403,084.15 in the bank forMarch.

On the flip side, however, Brookhaven’s $52,274.31 increase overlast year’s total did surpass McComb’s $35,229.03 increase and theadditional $31,880.74 brought in by Natchez.

Statewide, Brookhaven came in at No. 22 among the top sales taxcollectors.

Massengill said the fact that the numbers were looking up notjust in Brookhaven but seemingly across the board was encouraging,but there is still work to be done.

“We’re $19,000 better than January with three fewer days,”Massengill said, as March’s sales tax check reflects February’ssales, and February’s reflects January’s sales. “However, for thefirst six months of our fiscal year, we’re averaging $412,000 permonth and we’ve budgeted $425,000, so we have to continue tocontrol every cost we can.”

Speaking at Tuesday night’s city board meeting, Ward SixAlderman David Phillips brought up the fact that some departmentshave been cutting spending, even if it’s a slow process.

“We’re six months into the fiscal year and our expenses are 1percent down from what we budgeted,” said Phillips, crediting CityClerk Mike Jinks and the department heads for good moneymanagement.

According to totals for the state fiscal year, which starts July1 whereas the city’s starts October 1, Brookhaven’s sales taxcollections for 2009 are running about $82,000 ahead of its2008.

According to state totals, Brookhaven has taken in $3,883,624.09compared to $3,801,951.42 at the same point in 2008. Thatrepresents an increase of about 2 percent.

Massengill said he and other city officials obviously hope thesales tax numbers will continue to follow an upward trend throughthe rest of the year.

“We had a reasonably good month, and we need it to be evenhigher,” he said. “Hopefully in March we’ll see that those saleswere higher. But we do need to continue to encourage folks to shopat home.”

And the sales tax doesn’t just affect city finances, Massengillsaid, but it also serves as a gauge on Brookhaven’s overall fiscalhealth.

“Sales tax is a real number and we can see we’re under budget,”he said. “We need to keep a real tab on that.”