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Sales tax revenue breaks record for 3rd straight month

January 7, 2013

Sales tax and 2 percent restaurant tax revenues remained largely steady in October 2012, but it was also the third consecutive month of record-breaking sales tax revenues, according to the city of Starkville’s tax revenue report.

Sales tax revenue for October 2012 reached $470,242.97, a 2.11 percent increase versus October 2011’s $460,505.34. This was the highest sales tax revenue for any October on record dating back to 2000.

This new October record is the latest in a series of sales tax revenue records. September 2012 was the highest-revenue September on record with $498,516.66, and August 2012 was the highest-revenue August on record with $500,299.57.

The total recorded sales tax revenue for 2012 so far stands at $4,632,506.63. By the same time in 2011, sales tax revenue had reached $4,469,531.13, putting 2012 on track to become the third consecutive year of overall sales tax revenue growth for the city.

The city’s 2 percent restaurant tax revenue fell slightly in October 2012, down 0.99 percent to 131,176.40 from October 2011’s $132,486.89. Total restaurant tax revenues for 2012 so far stand at $1,258,802.57 and are consistent with total revenue at the same point in 2011, which was $1,243,268.05.

Starkville Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill said the sales tax figures show that Starkville is sustaining economic growth, even when that growth comes little by little. The growth represents increased interest in what Starkville has to offer from both visitors and residents, she said, and she credits the Starkville Main Street Association, Mississippi State University and city staff with raising this interest.

“When we all come together, it shows how much of a difference we can make,” Spruill said. “Our special events coinciding with ball games is paying off in the sense that we’re seeing continual incremental increases in sales tax revenue. It’s one of those things you look at and know that you’re beginning to see an uptick in the economy.”

Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman said he believes the best sales tax news of 2012 is yet to come.

“We’re still awaiting sales tax numbers from the two biggest months of the year, in our holiday season,” Wiseman said. “Provided those numbers are good — and we have every reason to expect that they will be — it’s going to be a much bigger than anticipated sales tax year for us.”

Spruill said the minor dip in 2 percent restaurant tax revenue is an exception to the rule. Restaurant tax revenues have increased overall in the past 20 years, she said, and those revenues benefit Starkville Parks and Recreation, the Starkville Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, the Oktibbeha County Economic Development Authority, the MSU Student Association and the city.

“We have all enjoyed that progress and prosperity coming from those increases,” Spruill said. “If you track it back to when we (first) received our 2 percent funding, it has been a very rare month that it’s ever went down.”

Wiseman said sales tax revenue growth has proven reliable enough for the city to use it to fund the 20-year certificate of participation lease that will pay for its new municipal complex downtown. This funding is based on conservative growth projections between 2.5 and 3 percent per year, he said, but the city’s actual annual growth trend has been between 3 and 3.5 percent.

Wiseman said sales tax revenues could conceivably grow by as much as 4 percent this year, but it would be imprudent to assume that much growth every year. Unless there is a severe nationwide economic downturn, he said, it is rare for any city to have sales tax revenue decline for any full year.

“Incremental sales tax growth is something that’s built into the budget every year,” Wiseman said. “Dedicating incremental sales tax growth to this project is just a manner of reserving incremental sales tax growth for the project so that it doesn’t get built into the general budget, because that’s what would otherwise happen. You project a conservative rate of sales tax growth every year. That’s part of the budgeting process.”

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