NWA sales tax revenue rises slightly in December

story by Kim Souza
ksouza@thecitywire.com

The largest cities in Northwest Arkansas saw their tax revenue rise slightly in December. Bentonville, Rogers, Springdale and Fayetteville received more than $4.277 million in sales tax revenue this month. Cumulatively the cities' coffers rose 3.83% from the same month in 2012 when revenue totaled $4.119 million.

December’s revenue reflects sales tax collected in October, creating a two-month lag in the reporting. Each of these cites collect a 2% sales tax. One percent is devoted to bond repayment and the remaining 1% goes into the cities’ general fund. This report reflects the 1% for the general fund.

Bentonville posted the largest increase year-over year with $819,262 in tax revenue marking a big turnaround the 27.43% drop reported in November. Denise Land, finance director for the city of Bentonville, said tax collections for the entire year are up more than 9% from 2012. She expects a better 2014 with the opening of Cracker Barrel, Chipotle Grill, Duncan Donuts and several other new eateries early next year.

Rogers posted a 5.27% increase year-over-year with $1.147 million in tax revenue. City officials said collections throughout the fall season were strong, particularly in October, with large turnouts at the craft fairs. This reversed a downtown turn in September when regional cumulative receipts dipped 2.89%. Chuy’s and Longhorn Steak House are slated to open in Rogers in early 2014, along with several other retail venues on tap in the Pinnacle area.

Fayetteville reported $1.457 million in tax revenue during December, up 3.5% compared to $1.407 million in the year-ago period.

Sales tax revenue in Springdale totaled $852,789 this month, up fractionally from $848,174 in receipts dated December 2012. City officials are optimistic for 2014, with the opening of a new Wal-Mart Supercenter on the west side of Springdale later in the year as well as several new convenience stores that have cropped up around the city in 2012 with the expansion of Kum and Go and Casey’s General Stores.

Sales tax revenue is closely tied to consumer sentiment, because consumers don’t typically spend as much money when they are concerned about their jobs or the overall economy.

U.S. consumer confidence fell sharply in October as consumers turned gloomier in their outlook for the future, according to The Conference Board, report. 
The consumer confidence reading dropped lower than economists’ expectations as they were less optimistic about their financial standing at that time. Since October, sentiment has continued to spiral downward.



“Consumer confidence declined moderately in November after sharply declining in October. Sentiment regarding current conditions was mixed, with consumers saying the job market had strengthened, while economic conditions had slowed. However, these sentiments did not carry over into the short-term outlook,” said Lynn Franco, director of the economic indicators for The Conference Board.

When looking ahead six months, Franco said that consumers expressed greater concern about future job and earning prospects, but remained neutral about economic conditions.

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“All in all, with such uncertainty prevailing, this could be a challenging holiday season for retailers,” Franco noted in the November report.

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