Sales tax drop not unexpected

Published 8:00 pm Thursday, November 1, 2012

Brookhaven’s sales tax numbers slumped a little, something city leaders expected to see on the latest revenue figures, but the city still performed well regionally.

     The September 2012 sales tax report released in October by the Mississippi of Revenue shows Brookhaven collected about $418,000 on sales activity occurring in August.

     The official reports indicate the city garnering about $505,000 from its September 2011 revenue, but that amount was the result of a recording error at the Department of Revenue. At the time, city officials estimated the city was actually only due about $437,000 for that month.

     Still, even with the corrected figure for September 2011 in place, the city underperformed that mark by approximately $19,000 this year. Most months this year, the city has increased its totals over the year before.

     It’s a drop local chamber of commerce director Cliff Brumfield fully expected.

     “Retail was down across the board,” Brumfield said.

     Brumfield believes strong sales in the prior month may have resulted in less money filtering through the local economy.

     “With more spent on big-ticket purchases, that leaves less money for the next month,” Brumfield said.

     He also suggested the annual back-to-school expenses upped the August report and left the September report trailing in comparison.

     Brumfield remains encouraged, though, that Brookhaven is a strong economic competitor regionally.

     McComb’s September 2012 report totals came in right below Brookhaven’s, with $416,500 of revenue, about $5,000 more than its revenue in September 2011.

     Natchez revenue was stronger than either McComb or Brookhaven on the September 2012 figures, with $444,000 of sales tax revenue. Natchez increased over September 2011 by a wide margin, climbing from $419,000.

     Brookhaven’s smaller regional neighbors showed mixed results. Monticello and Bude saw modest improvements while Wesson and Meadville experienced small declines.

     Ranking Mississippi cities by September sales tax receipts, Brookhaven came in 24th. McComb was just behind at No. 25.

     Brumfield doesn’t believe September’s slightly depressed performance will be indicative of the year’s remaining months.

     “We look healthy going into the fourth quarter,” Brumfield said.

     Based on the early reports of retailers and other economic indicators he’s seen, Brumfield remains optimistic the city’s fourth quarter sales will prove stronger than last year’s, which were relatively weak.

     Looking beyond the month-to-month fluctuations of sales tax, Brumfield is excited by the big picture he sees, with new retail outlets and restaurants having opened in the city throughout the year.