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Error sends October tax total downward

An error in the amount of sales tax dispersed to the city inOctober means the latest sales tax report indicates a deep drop incollections, local officials said.

     The October sales taxreport, showing revenue collected in September, records the citywith $339,339.74 of tax revenue. That is a sharp decline from theSeptember records, which reported August collections at$505,090.11.

    The decline puts Brookhaven at No. 28 out of Mississippi citiesranked by sales tax collection. The October ranking is severalspots lower than the city’s usual place on the monthly statewidelist.

    According to Mayor Les Bumgarner, the September collection was anerror on the part of the Department of Revenue, paying outapproximately $68,000 too much in sales tax to the city. Tocompensate, the October payout was reduced by the amount of theerror.

    The correct amount collected in August was approximately $437,000and the correct October total was approximately $407,000, saidBumgarner. Exact amounts for the correct collections were notavailable.

    Department of Revenue representatives were not available to discussthe matter.

    “It looks as they there was an error and we received more than ourshare,” said Cliff Brumfield, local chamber of commerce executivevice president, referring to the reported September total ofapproximately $505,000.

    Brumfield initially suspected a business had filed its sales taxfor July late, causing some money that should have been collectedin August to appear on the September check. However, that would nothave required a reduction in the October check.

    “We’re all human, and errors in tax collections do happen from timeto time,” Brumfield said. “But normally, the Department of Revenuedoes an excellent job.”

    The mistake in the August totals does not come as a surprise tothose familiar with the city’s sales tax patterns.

    “The amount was certainly suspicious to begin with,” Brumfieldsaid.

    The mayor agreed.

    “We hoped it wasn’t a mistake, but I was afraid this would happen,”Bumgarner said.

    An October total of $404,000 puts Brookhaven slightly above its2010 total of 400,390.18.

    The total sales tax collected in 2011 by the city since July 1stands at $1,672,127.70. The July 1-to-date total in the October 2010 report was a littlelower, with $1,656,096.39 of sales tax revenue.

    Brumfield is encouraged by the trends, which he attributed to aneconomy that continues to recover.

    “Overall we are moving forward,” Brumfield said.

    The chamber leader expects further improvement in the coming monthsas the holiday shopping months of November and December cycle intothe reports.

    The October report indicated good news overall for regionalcities.

    McComb collected $414,288.49 in September, an increase of about$10,000 for the city over its 2010 collection. Its year-to-datetotal also sits about $10,000 higher than the 2010 amount.

    Those numbers were similar to Natchez, which collected $428,242.07in September, approximately $13,000 more than last September. Thecity’s year-to-date total also stands approximately $10,000 morethan last year.

    Comparably sized cities throughout the state saw also improvement,with Madison coming up from approximately $332,000 to about$410,000. Oxford moved from approximately $524,000 to more than$600,000.