By NEMS Daily Journal
Many of Northeast Mississippi’s municipalities – from smallest to largest – have received more sales tax diversion payments from the state since July 1 than during the corresponding three moths in 2011, a measure of increased business activity on taxable goods.
Mississippi’s fiscal year 2013 started July 1. Cities’ budget years don’t start until Oct. 1, and stronger collections than from the same month in a previous year is interpreted as a positive because sales tax is a crucial part of municipal revenue in virtually all communities.
Statewide, sales tax collections were down 18 percent below the estimate for the quarter, but each town’s sales tax diversion is measured strictly by how much is spent on taxable purchases within its city limits. The diversion – also often called a rebate – is set at 18.5 percent.
The region’s three largest cities – Tupelo, Oxford and Starkville – exceeded the most recent month compared to last year, and for the quarter compared to 2011, the Department of Revenue’s website reports:
* Tupelo for the quarter is reported at $4.371 million, compared to $4.285 million in 2011;
* Starkville stands at $1.358 million compared to $1.34 million;
* Oxford has received or is due $1.615 million compared to $1.549 million.
The Starkville and Oxford totals do not include sales tax collected on the campuses of Mississippi State University and the University of Mississippi, and those totals are up for the quarter, the Revenue website reports.
Tupelo City Clerk Kim Hanna, who tracks the revenue, said the corresponding month a year earlier is followed more closely as a measure of comparison. Tupelo, she said, exceeded its 2012 budget year sales tax projections by $900,000, and the city earlier amended the budget and spent $550,000 of the unexpected revenue.
October is the first month of the 2013 cycle for cities. Hanna said cities like Tupelo usually will pay close attention to the holiday sales months of November and December as a basis for comparison moving forward.
Sales tax diversions for the quality were also up in most of the other county-seat municipalities in the region, a measure of strength on Main Street outside the largest cities.