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Sales tax revenue shows healthy increase

story by Kim Souza
ksouza@thecitywire.com

Consumers opened up their wallets and purses in September and spent more money across Benton and Washington counties, according to city tax records.

The top four commercial districts in Northwest Arkansas each reported healthy gains in sales tax revenue last week giving city budgets a cushion as the year winds down.

Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers and Bentonville collectively reported sales tax revenue in excess of $4.421 million received in November. This revenue reflects tax on September sales, remitted in October to the state.

Revenue rose 13.97% from the same month in 2011, with all four cities showing year-over-year gains.

Each of the cities in this report collect a 2% sales tax which is divided evenly between the cities’ general operating fund and the repayment of bonds. This report tracks the city’s portion, or 1% of the tax collected which is used for budgetary operations.

This month was the first true indication of how much traffic the Cabela’s Outdoor Center in Rogers is generating for the region.

Rogers collected $1.147 million in tax revenue this month, some $121,000 more than a year ago, which in 2011 included the LPGA Golf Tournament.

“We are extremely happy with the number of visitors making their way to Rogers whether it’s for a convention or shopping, our businesses are benefiting,” said Allyson Twiggs Dyer, executive director for the Rogers Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Dyer said the LPGA being moved from the fall to the spring proved to help tax collections in both periods.

“Our hospitality collections were up 15.59% in June from the tournament and we didn’t see any let down in September with collections up 19.9% from a year ago,” Dyer said.

Steve Cox, vice president of economic development for the Rogers-Lowell Chamber of Commerce, adds that retailers are seeing more traffic and a renewed enthusiasm from Cabela’s.

“We have eight new retailers coming to Rogers in the first few months of 2013, and a lot of that is linked  to the success reported by Cabela’s, Fresh Market and Houlihans since they each located here earlier this year,” Cox said.

Dyer said the Cabela’s link is the number one referral on the chamber’s website.

She said the chamber site www.checkintorogers.com offers several value packages for holiday shoppers wanting to spend a weekend in Rogers before the year end.

“We are fortunate to have so many retail and hotel options for consumers to chose from and we are excited about what we think will be strong holiday sales again this year,” Dyer said.

Year- to-date tax revenue in Rogers is up $971,243 or 8.77% higher than 2011, according to city records.

Bentonville also reported a banner month with tax revenue up 21.9%, or $148,995 more than collected in prior year period. City officials say they are some $600,000 away from making budget this year, but are confident December revenue will more than cover that amount.

In the month of November, Bentonville reported tax collections of $826,585, compared to $688,590 a year ago. Finance director Denise Land says the city is on track to exceed $9 million in collections this year more than $1.2 million over budget if revenue stays on trend through December.

Fayetteville had a strong month with collections totaling $1.575 million, up 13.5% from a year ago. Paul Becker, financial director said revenue collections are 6.8% higher than budget projections this year.

Springdale also reported strong double-digit gains with revenue totaling $852,017, up 10.4% from the year-ago period. City officials say this was the best November in six years for Springdale.

Smaller cities across the region also reported higher collections in November. Siloam Springs benefited from $237,931 in sale tax revenue in November, up 1.6% from a year ago. Lowell’s tax collections rose 11.6% to $197,543 in November. In Bella Vista tax collections were up 5% to $118,379, according to the state revenue office.

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CUMULATIVE TAX COLLECTIONS
Bentonville
2012: $8.392 million
2011: $7.665 million
9.48%

Fayetteville
2012: $16.053 million
2011: $15.066 million
6.55%

Rogers
2012: $12.036 million
2011: $11.065 million
8.77%

Springdale
2012: $9.371 million
2011: $9.067 million
3.35%

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