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Recent sales tax revenue growth muted

story by Kim Souza
ksouza@thecitywire.com

Consumers across Northwest Arkansas pulled back spending in October as the region’s four largest cities reported total sales tax revenue collections of $4.12 million, up 0.56% from the year-ago period.

The recent revenue reflects tax on October sales, remitted in November to the state and reported by the cities in December. All 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.

The recent sales tax collections slowed from a robust 13.97% increase in September, but city officials remain optimistic saying one month does not make a whole year.

DECEMBER REVENUE COLLECTIONS
Fayetteville: $1.407 million, up 1.03%
Springdale: $848,175, down 5.13%
Bentonville: $774,012, up 0.11%
Rogers: $1.089 million, up 5.02%

Denise Land, finance director for the City of Bentonville, said 2012 has been a good year through 11 months of collections and some $1.143 million over budget with one month of revenue to report.

“We have budgeted an 8.7% increase in 2013 given the strong year we had in 2012. Crystal Bridges continues to draw traffic to Bentonville and the vibrant downtown area,” Land said.

In the 11 months reported, Bentonville’s sale tax revenue rose 12.04% from the same time period in 2011.

Rogers continues to come up big with Cabela’s -- a destination of its own. The recent report indicates businesses collected $52,085 more in monthly sales tax than in the prior year. This equated to an increased in sales receipts totaling $520,850 of goods and services during the month.

During 11 months of 2012, Rogers has reported total sales tax revenue of $12.086 million, up 8.4% from the same period in 2011. City officials say it’s the best year on record.

Fayetteville posted a modest increase in December sales tax revenue, despite a lackluster Razorback football season.

Paul Becker, Fayetteville finance director, said when compared to budget for the month, sales tax collections in Fayetteville were up a total of $67,183 or 2.98%. The 2012 year-to- date budget impact for the eleven months is up a total of $1.536 million or 6.16%.

City officials are optimistic, projecting a modest increase in sales tax revenue in 2013. They cite population growth around the University of Arkansas as the major catalyst.

Springdale officials reported the biggest pullback in December tax revenue with collections totaling $849,248, off roughly 5.1% from the prior year.

Mayor Doug Sprouse says the city has budgeted a slight increase for 2013, but remains cautious given the country’s tepid economic forecast for the first half of the year.

Springdale also grew its tax revenue at 2.14% through the 11-month period reported so far. The city has enjoyed steady job creation and recently announced a new Wal-Mart Supercenter and retail development that will come online in 2014.

Sprouse said the tax gains in 2012 are nice but the city will remain conservative in its budgeting for 2013.

CUMULATIVE TAX COLLECTIONS
Bentonville
2012: $8.660 million
2011: $7.729 million
12.04%

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Fayetteville
2012: $16.093 million
2011: $15.136 million
6.32%

Rogers
2012: $12.086 million
2011: $11.149 million
8.40%

Springdale
2012: $10.219 million
2011: $9.951 million
2.69%

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