Sales tax totals bring some joy to city coffers

Published 7:43 pm Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Brookhaven’s sales tax definitely topped budget expectations inJanuary thanks to shoppers getting out and spending money onChristmas, though city leaders said they had still hoped to seehigher numbers when the report came out.

With a sales tax return of $439,917.41, the city was almost $25,000above the monthly budget of $415,000, but still well below 2009’sJanuary total of $466,370.27.

“It’s nice but it’s a little disappointing,” said Brookhaven MayorLes Bumgarner. “I was hoping for about $460,000. This puts us at anaverage of about $404,000 for the last three months.”

McComb, on the other hand, was up to $512,999.10 for December’ssales, which was still below their 2009 Christmas sales numbers of$565,335.92. And Natchez was also down from last year’s $518,938.75by a good bit at $495,551.52, but still topped Brookhaven by a goodbit.

Bumgarner said Brookhaven comes in seventh on a list of 22 citiesof similar size that he keeps track of.

“Most of the cities that are beating us have malls, most haveliquor by the glass, or colleges,” he said.

But Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwell pointed out that Brookhavenremains strong because of its car sales industry.

“What we have to hang our hats on in Brookhaven is our autodealerships,” he said. “If the auto business is good, our sales taxis real good.”

Aldermen discussed the fact that a mall would definitely bring upsales tax as has happened in other cities when they have addedlarge shopping centers.

“I saw where Madison bumped up pretty good because of that new mallthey’ve got there on the interstate,” Bumgarner said. “Maybe whenour economy picks up we’ll get a mall.”

Brookhaven usually beats Madison in the numbers, but they broughtin $497,774.62 for December 2010 sales, which is up from 2009’s$483,164.60.

Alderman at Large Karen Sullivan said that sometimes the answer canbe much easier than it would seem. She pointed out that manybusinesses around town close at the same time, which means thatpeople with 9-5 jobs can’t always shop there like they would if thebusinesses were open just a little longer.

“If businesses would stay open just until 5:30, that would help somuch,” she said.

But Bumgarner still holds that Brookhaven is doing better than alot of cities, though he said budget numbers may need to be alteredagain if things don’t pick up. The budget last year included$425,000 per month, and during the budget sessions in the latesummer, aldermen adjusted it to $415,000 since the economy was in adownturn, citing conservatism.

“Statewide and nationwide things are down,” he said. “We reducedthe budget some and might have to reduce it again.”