City of Cumby sees rapid rise in sales tax rebates after sales of alcoholic beverages get under way
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

Feb. 20, 2004 -- The local option decision to allow the sale of alcohol in Cumby is paying big dividends.

Cumby's sales tax rebate check from the state comptroller's office, received Monday, showed a dramatic increase in total retail sales in the community that can be attributed to the sale of beer, wine and spirits.

Cumby's sales tax rebate check in the amount of $4,414.12 reflected retail sales in December, an increase of 126.10 percent over last year.

"It would have to be, mostly, on I-30," said Mary French, Cumby city secretary, referring to the stores that first began selling beer and wine, and eventually liquor, in December.

The Cumby City Council began steps last year to petition for the local option election in hopes of boosting the community's sagging economy. City officials cited a need to upgrade the city's water system and streets. Voters approved the measure in September by a slim margin.

The availability of alcoholic beverages in Cumby may have also had an impact on retail sales in Millers Cove and Commerce, previously the closest sales points to Sulphur Springs for alcohol.

Millers Cove retail sales, according to the comptroller's office, were down more than 82 percent for December. The town's sales tax rebate check of $410 was the second-lowest since the community incorporated in 1982.

In Commerce, retail sales were down just less than one percent with a decrease in sales tax from last year of $910.

While Cumby is in the only incorporated area in Hopkins County to see a dramatic rise in sales tax rebates, other communities also saw improvements. Sulphur Springs was a distant second to Cumby in retail sales percentage with an increase of 10.19 percent, while Como came in with an increase of 6.8 percent for December.

The 10 percent increase in Sulphur Springs follows a trend that began to develop last April after an extended period of stagnant retail activity.

Sulphur Springs' check for $399,141 was up more than $37,000 from the same period last year.

Peter Karstens, financial director for Sulphur Springs, said if the current trend continues it will mean an additional $70,000 to $100,000 of available money when the city council begins preparations for the next budget.

Karstens credited Starplex Cinemas 6 with a major role in the sales tax refund increase, and said with the addition of the new Lowe's store to the economy, the trend can only improve.

The check for the city of Como of $1,867.17 was about $120 more than the over the check received at this time last year.

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