Cumby's sales tax numbers continue to rise
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

April 13, 2004 -- Sales tax rebates in Sulphur Springs took a downturn this month, but the dollars continue to roll into Cumby's city coffers following last September's decision by voters to allow the legal sales of alcoholic beverages in that city.

The most recent sales tax rebate check received by Cumby in the amount of $2,232.02 reflected a more than 50 percent increase in retail sales over the same period in 2003, according to reports issued from the state comptrollers' office.

While the increase in Cumby's retail sales is almost five times greater than the overall statewide increase of 11.4 percent, the April figures are down considerably from those in February, when the sales tax rebate check amounted to more than $4,400, an increase of more than 126 percent over last year. Last month the town's rebate check of $3,025 was up 97 percent from the year before.

The real indicator of just how much impact alcohol sales have had on the town will come when the comptroller releases the next report on May 15. May's sales tax rebates will include taxes collected in March by monthly sales tax filers, and in January, February and March by quarterly sales tax filers.

Earlier this year there was speculation that Cumby's decision to go "wet" impacted both Miller's Cove and Commerce sales. The April report indicated both cities were continuing to see increased sales. Miller's Cove's April check was more than 12.5 percent higher than one year before. In Commerce, an increase of almost 9 percent was reported.

In Sulphur Springs, the 4.31 percent drop in retail sales in Sulphur Springs might seem depressing if taken at face value, but City Finance Director Peter Karstens said it is only the leveling out of a trend of increases that began in April, 2003.

"If you take March and April together, last year was 4.77, this year it is 4.92," he said. "That's going to be the more accurate way of looking at it because both of those months are skewed down and up."

Although the April check was down more than $11,000 from a year ago, that's more a reflection of an extremely high rebate in April 2003. That month's check for more than $262,000 was the most ever in the month of April for the city.

"This April was stronger than it has been in the past four or five years," Karstens said. "So, the trend continues."

During the past 12 months, sales tax rebates to Sulphur Springs have been larger than in previous years and, while the latest numbers reflect a decline, the growth trend continues to increase at a rate of more than 4.5 percent over the previous year.

The sales tax rebate to Como was up 9.61 percent.

Countywide retail sales continued strong at more than 5 percent ahead of last year, even though the March totals were down 3.95 percent from the same month in 2003.

Both Mount Vernon and Winnsboro showed retail sales growth in the double digits with increases of 21.5 percent and 21.98 percent respectively.

Greenville and Paris both had increases of almost 9 percent from last year.

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