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By NATHAN GREGORY
Starkville recorded its highest September sales tax return on record, an accomplishment city leaders say shows positive signs for the cityâ€™s economy future.
Tax figures released by the city show a collection of $498,516.66, a 6.74 percent increase from last yearâ€™s September total of $467,034.81.
The monthly average for 2012 of $462,473.74 is outpacing last yearâ€™s monthly average of $454,264.50 by $8,209.24, meaning the city is on track to break the year-long record, $5,451.174.03, set in 2011.
Starkville also broke its September 2 percent restaurant tax record, set in 2010, by $13,009.95. The city collected $138,031.39 in restaurant collections this September compared to September 2010â€™s $125,525.68 total. This Septemberâ€™s total is a 10.43 percent increase from September 2011. The monthly average of $125,291.80 also eclipses last yearâ€™s $123,946.11 monthly average.
If the city continues its current collection pace, it will break records in both categories of tax figures set last year.
Greater Starkville Development Partnership Vice President for Tourism and Economic Development Jennifer Gregory said while she expected to see a high return in September, another monthly record being broken is a bonus.
â€śI think we expected to see great numbers for September because of the success we feel like weâ€™ve experienced during Mississippi State (Universityâ€™s) football season. The athletic department continues to see sold out crowds at football games and that definitely trickles down to our hotels, restaurants and retailers. We at the Partnership have continued to promote local dining and shopping through our New South Weekends and Bulldog Brunch and Browse,â€ť she said. â€śWe are thrilled to see such positive sales tax numbers for the month of September. I think it speaks to the positivity that the community is experiencing both on campus and in the community. People are shopping locally, downtown is thriving, tourism is at an all time high and quality of life in Starkville has never been better in my opinion.â€ť
Gregory said she looks for tax figures to remain steady through the end of 2012 due in part to GSDPâ€™s constant campaign to promote local spending.
â€śWe had some big football games in October and some record crowds,â€ť she said. â€śWith events like Pumpkinpalooza and Maroon Madness encouraging people to spend their money downtown prior to football game, and Bulldog Brunch and Browse on Sundays to keep them spending in our community, we anticipate positive numbers for October as well.â€ť
Starkville Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill said the success can be chalked up to a team effort between the city and county municipalities as well as GSDP, MSU and the Starkville Main Street Association.
â€śI am delighted weâ€™re showing that uptick and we want to continue on that track as we keep going through the year,â€ť Spruill said. â€śI anticipate everything weâ€™ve set in motion has a bearing on continued growth and success in returns and 2 percent numbers. Everyone should be proud of all the work weâ€™ve been doing to keep us on track.â€ť