By NATHAN GREGORY
Starkville’s May 2012 sales tax revenue fell $25,480.43 from May 2011’s but rebounded in June, eclipsing June 2011’s total by $25,244.44.
Figures for May 2012 were $442,991.06, a 5.44 percent dip from May 2011, while June 2012’s total reached $444,896.78, a 6.02 percent increase from June 2011.
Through the first half of 2012, the $458,338.69 monthly average for sales tax collections is at an all-time high. Last year’s monthly average was $454,264.50.
Currently revenues are on pace to beat 2011’s record of $5,451,174.03. Through six months, $2,750,032.12 in sales tax revenue was collected. If the city collects that same amount through the last six months of the year, the yearly total will be $5,500,064.24.
Starkville Greater Development Partnership Vice President for Tourism and Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Gregory said despite the May 2012 decrease, revenues are still on pace to better last year’s numbers.
“Our collections in May were the first month in this calendar year that there has been a decrease in collections based on the year before. In the other months we’ve either been steady or we’ve seen a 5 or 6 percent decrease. The May numbers were not wonderful, but we made up for it in the sales tax that was collected in June,” Gregory said. “I was very pleased with the June numbers. We’re looking forward to a great fall. I’m hopeful that it’s going to be one of the best we’ve had. Hopefully we can continue this pretty remarkable gain in sales tax.”
Starkville’s 2 percent restaurant tax revenue also increased slightly during May and June 2012 from those months in 2011.
May 2012’s 2 percent collection of $118,538.21 was a 9.23 percent increase over May 2011’s total of $108,521.81, while June 2012’s $112,623.96 was 2.68 percent higher than June 2011’s collection of $109,684.88.
Despite those increases, restaurant tax revenues aren’t currently poised to eclipse the 2011 total collection of $1,487,353.34. If the $742,345 that was collected in the first half of the year is matched in the second half, a total of $1,484,690 in restaurant taxes will be collected.
Gregory said she anticipates revenue generated during the fall should help provide the boost needed to top last year’s total restaurant tax collection.
“I think the trend of trying to shop local and our efforts to try to promote that lifestyle have made an impact. We have events like unWINE where we saw unprecedented ticket sales. The whole goal behind those events is to boost retail,” Gregory said. “Mississippi State (University) had so many top notch camps they offered throughout the (summer). That really helps our merchants. There are literally thousands of young adults that come through those camps and orientation. The majority of the tourism spending that’s done in Starkville and Oktibbeha County is between August and December. I definitely expect for the 2 percent numbers to pick up quite a bit in the second half of the calendar year.”
Ward 2 Alderman Sandra Sistrunk said she is reluctant to put too much emphasis on single month totals; looking long term is a better indicator of economic growth, she said.
“I’m very pleased with the numbers. They show good string solid growth going into season that typically is our best with tax collections,” Sistrunk said. “If you look at it over the course of the year it’s been very positive.”
Mayor Parker Wiseman said the amount collected during the first half of the year indicates that both sales tax and beverage tax revenue is continuously on the rise.
“This is a very positive sign. Over the first six months our sales tax collections are up over 6 percent from last year,” Wiseman said. “That’s a big number. The fact that it has held for six months now is a very promising sign.”