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City celebrates another strong sales tax month

City leaders are feeling optimistic after Brookhaven sales tax numbers have broken records for a second time this calendar year.

     The Department of Revenue’s May report records about $455,000 of sales tax revenue collected by Brookhaven retailers in the month of April. That’s a solid increase over the $445,000 collected by retailers in April of last year.

     It’s also the highest total reported in May for which online records are available. The Department of Revenue’s online-accessible records go back until 2001.

     Prior to this year, the city never recorded revenue higher than $445,000 on its May report.

     Record-breaking or not, Mayor Les Bumgarner counts the revenue totals as welcome news.

     “Any time we get above $450,000, that’s great,” Bumgarner told aldermen at a recent city board meeting.

     Brookhaven has now recorded several strong months of sales tax revenue, including another record-breaking month and a month that came out much higher than anticipated. The March revenue report of this year also indicated the highest collection total on record for that month.

     “This is a continuing trend of the economic recovery,” said Cliff Brumfield, local chamber of commerce executive vice president.

     Since July of last year, the city has pulled in about $4,658,00, approximately $100,000 more than total collections at this time last year.

     The city’s fiscal year begins in October and since then, the city has collected $3,830,502 in sales tax revenue, said City Clerk Mike Jinks.

     The city’s 2011-12 budget projected $4,900,000 in sales tax revenue.

     Sales tax revenue has been strong throughout the region.

     McComb retailers collected about $448,000 this April, up from $440,000 in April of last year. Natchez also posted an increase, with April retail collections reaching more than $455,000, up from last year’s $439,000.

     Economically positive signs in Southwest Mississippi can be partially attributed to broader economic recovery rather than any specifically local factors, Brumfield said. However, he did identify some local business trends he’s noted.

     “We have growth locally in our health care sector and we continue to see unemployment decrease across the region,” Brumfield said. “Taken into a whole these are having a strong regional impact on the economy.”

     Oil exploration continues to be ongoing in Southwest Mississippi. That’s having some impact on local economies, but Brumfield believes it can’t take all the credit for the upward looking numbers.

     “We are definitely seeing increased opportunities due to the influx of people, but at this point I would attribute regional increases to overall economic progress,” Brumfield said.

     Small, locally owned retailers are seeing the signs of a more robust economy, but may be lagging behind some other commercial sectors.

     “We still need to support our local businesses in every way we can,” Brumfield said. “Happy days are here, but we’d like them to get a whole lot happier.”