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Fall shopping season sales tax totals looking healthy

     Brookhaven’s sales taxes are looking up just at the time when retailers are counting on strong retail activity to close out the year.

     November’s sales tax report from the state Department of Revenue, indicating taxes collected on October retail activity, showed Brookhaven earning $427,000 in sales tax revenue on October sales.

     That’s a healthy $22,000 increase from the year before. The city collected $405,000 on 2011 October retail activity.

     It’s a strong jump when comparing month to month, but year-to-date totals for 2012 aren’t running significantly ahead of 2011.

     Since July, the city has collected $2.1 million in sales tax, only about $20,000 more than July-to-date totals at this time last year.

     Mayor Les Bumgarner described the numbers as good ones for the city overall.

     “We appreciate people shopping locally,” he said.

     Last year’s holiday sales total in the Brookhaven area was deemed relatively lackluster, and area business leaders have said they hope for much stronger levels of Christmas shopping in 2012.

     However, though sales tax totals in the city are looking up, it may be a rising tide that’s leaving behind small, locally owned businesses

     “I talked to some people in retail, and they say it’s kind of tough out there,” Bumgarner said.

     Sales tax reports of November and December sales activity will indicate a fuller picture of holiday shopping in the area.

     On the latest sales tax reports, McComb performed similarly to Brookhaven, collecting more than $424,000. McComb improved its showing over last year by nearly $30,000.

     City leaders were glad to see Brookhaven heading into the Christmas retail season performing favorably compared to the larger McComb.

     But at last week’s board of aldermen meeting, aldermen discussed the number of Lincoln County residents that travel to McComb to eat at restaurants like Ruby Tuesday and Applebee’s.

     They mentioned the possibility a successful referendum to legalize liquor sales in the city could help Brookhaven eventually regain some of that sales tax lost to McComb eateries.

     Elsewhere in the area, Natchez outperformed both Brookhaven and McComb, showing a sales tax total of $443,000 for October sales activity.

     Some smaller regional neighbors saw a slight dip on the November sales tax report.

     Monticello’s most recent sales tax check of $34,000 was about $3,000 less than this time last year, and Wesson dropped from $14,000 to $13,000.

     Ranking the top 25 sales tax earners in the state for the November report, Brookhaven rated 24th in the state, just ahead of McComb.