Going Up
Area economy area shifts up a gear, according to sales tax reports
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

May 13, 2004 -- Economic growth in Hopkins County is continuing to grow, and based on the most recent sales tax refund information, has shifted into a higher gear.

The city of Cumby continues to outpace the area with another huge increase in sales tax rebates since the sale of alcoholic beverages in the city was approved last September. The most recent rebate check from the state was up more than 134 percent over the same period last year and added another $7,436 to that community's general fund.

May's sales tax rebates include local sales taxes collected in March by monthly sales tax filers and in January, February and March by quarterly sales tax filers, and reported to the state comptroller in April.

Retail sales in Cumby have almost doubled to date compared to last year. In 2003, Cumby had received $9,394 through the first five months, but this year sales tax rebate dollars have totaled $18,507.

Cumby is not the only local municipality to see a big jump in sales tax dollars.

The city of Sulphur Springs' most recent sales tax rebate check was in the amount of $391,054.65, a jump of more than $70,000 and a 21.7 percent increase from the previous year, according to Peter Karstens, Sulphur Springs financial director.

For the year, the city's sales tax dollars are up 8.59 percent to $1.52 million.

Karstens said the economy is improving across the nation, and by looking at the full parking lots at retail outlets in Sulphur Springs, the trend is even more evident locally.

City Manager Marc Maxwell's observation on this latest jump in retail sales figures was considerably more reserved than that of the financial director, however.

"This big a jump looks like more of an anomaly than a trend to me," he said. "We see this again, then I might be trying to figure out [the trend.]"

The city of Como, after seeing an increase of 9.6 percent in April, saw the trend take on a negative aspect this month with a more than 30 percent decrease from the same period last year.

Como's check in the amount of $1,354.09 reflected a drop of more than $600 from last year's figures for the month.

For Hopkins County, the tax rebate was up 12.55 percent from one year ago. This month's check of $130,899.68 also helped push the year-to-date total to $549,840, up 7.34 percent from the same point in 2003.

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