June sales tax revenue rises in Northwest Arkansas

story by Kim Souza
ksouza@thecitywire.com

The four largest cities in Northwest Arkansas reported healthy sales tax collections on Tuesday (June 25) putting 2013 another step ahead of 2012 – a good year by all accounts.

Bentonville, Rogers, Springdale and Fayetteville received more than $4.453 million in sales tax revenue in June. Cumulative collections rose 10.8% over the year-ago period.

These collections were for goods and services taxed in April, creating a two-month lag. This report reflects the 1% sales tax which helps fund city budgets.

June Sales Tax Revenue
Bentonville: $970,642, up 46.01%
Rogers: $1.182 million, up 9.61%
Springdale: $852,304, up 1.54%
Fayetteville: $1.449 million, up 0.84%

Bentonville Finance Director Denise Land could not explain why revenue was so strong this month, and cautiously said she hopes there isn’t an unexpected rebate to follow.

“We are glad collections are up again this year, after the good 2012 we recorded. Restaurant sales have been strong and I guess tourists in the city are helping to push revenue higher,” Land said.

One of the biggest draws to Bentonville continues to be Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, logging more than 923,000 visitors since opening on Nov. 11, 2011.

“The Norman Rockwell exhibit which ran from March 9 to May 27, was the most visited at the museum since our opening. More than 121,000 visitors came through to see the exhibit,” Carol said.

According to data from the Rockwell Museum, this attendance figure tops visitation numbers from the 12 previous exhibition locations — including cities such as Sacramento, Detroit, Orlando and Raleigh, N.C.

Rogers also posted robust results with revenue topping $1 million for 16-consecutive months.

New restaurants opening in the Pinnacle Promenade area and aggressive work to get multiple conventions has helped keep the sales tax revenue growing. City officials also credit Cabela’s as a big draw from up to 150 miles away,

Springdale sales receipts were steady as were Fayetteville. Both of the Washington County towns are running ahead of their 2013 budget expenditures through five months of this year.

The Northwest Arkansas economy posted better job numbers in April with a local unemployment rate of 5.1%, one of the lowest in the country.

Also in April the consumer confidence reading was 68.1, up from 61.9 in March. Economists reported business outlook was more upbeat in April, which is also reflected in the better sales tax numbers.

While economists warned there could be a modest slowing in the local economy this summer, it has not yet been revealed in the data.

Home sales continue to rally in both Benton and Washington counties with robust activity despite higher real estate values.

Earlier today (June 25) the Consumer Confidence Board released its latest assessment of the business sentiment in June. The consumer confidence reading of 81.4 rose from 74.3 in May.

At least for now, the local economy appears to be on steady footing which has helped city budgets look better than they have in the past several years.

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Sales Tax Revenue  (year-to-date for each year)
Rogers
2013: $6.011 million
2012: $5.426 million
10.79%

Bentonville
2013: $4.526 million
2012: $4.132 million
9.55%

Fayetteville
2013: $ 7.476 million
2012: $ 7.209 million
3.69%

Springdale
2013: $4.286 million
2012: $4.208 million 
1.85%

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