City's sales tax numbers take a turn for the better

After a long downturn, retail sales indicator up for third time in four months

By BRUCE ALSOBROOK, News-Telegram Managing Editor

March 21, 208 - Sales tax rebates in the city of Sulphur Springs took a turn for the better this month. The city's share of the sales tax pie in March came to $293,346, up 1.24 percent from one year ago.

While that's hardly a huge jump, it is a reversal of fortune of sorts for the economic indicator which reflects retail sales in the city.

Over a prior five-year period from 2001 to 2006, sales tax collections -- and, consequently, retail sales -- grew at an average annual rate of 5.74 percent.

Put another way, retail sales in the city rose from $213.64 million per year in 2001 to $274.9 million in 2006.

But the numbers began to slide about midway through 2007. From June through November of 2007, monthly sales tax collections were lower than the comparable months from 2006. By the end of the year, the city's cumulative 2007 sales tax collections had increased overall from 2006, but only by a relatively measly 1.15 percent.

Since November, however, sales tax rebates to the city have generally been on the upswing. Sales tax collections in December 2007 were up 11.7 percent from the same month in 2006 rose another 3 percent in January. The numbers tumbled in February, falling almost 9 percent from one year before, but moved upward again in March.

Thanks to the February decline, the collections for the year in the city so far total $1.05 million, down 3.56 percent from the first three months of 2007. If the city continues to record more up months than down, however, the negatives could become positives by the time the holiday shopping season rolls around.

While retail activity was down in Sulphur Springs, the town of Cumby reported increased sales tax returns. Cumby's March share of $9,733 was up 7.31 percent from one year ago.

Como's sales tax rebate for March dropped 21.88 percent from one year ago, to $1,154. Through the first three months of the year, however, the town's sales tax total of $4,501 is up 19.5 percent from the first quarter of 2007.

Some area cities fared well with the March sales tax rebates, others not so well.

Greenville, for example, was up 7.41 percent from March of 2007, and Mount Vernon also saw a healthy increase of 15.23 percent.

Paris also reported a 4.7 percent increase in sales tax collections for the month, although that city's three-month total for 2007 is still 3.85 percent behind last year's pace.

In Cooper, however, the total was down 15.13 percent, while Mount Pleasant recorded an 8.51 percent downturn. Emory's sales tax rebate this month was down 14.38 percent from one year ago, while Winnsboro declined 20.57 percent.

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