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August sales tax revenue mixed across Northwest Arkansas

story by Kim Souza
ksouza@thecitywire.com

The four largest cities across Northwest Arkansas reported $4.683 million in sales tax revenue this month, up 1.84% from $4.598 million a year ago. Springdale lead the region with a 14.7% gain in year-over-year collections.

The city in the middle with the least retail of the four has recorded double-digit gains in three consecutive months making up for a sluggish start earlier this year. Springdale Mayor Doug Sprouse said he’s not sure what is responsible for the uptick in sales tax, but he’s not complaining. In fact, the city expects to see its sales tax remain higher for the rest of this year with the recent opening of a Walmart Supercenter at Elm Springs Road and Interstate-49.

August sales tax are based on June sales, remitted to the state in July and paid back to the cities the following month creating a two-month lag in the reporting. Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers and Bentonville each collect a 2% sales tax, half of that goes to debt repayment and 1% goes into the city operating budget. This report reflects the latter.

The new supercenter opened in August, so the partial results should begin to show up around October with a full month of operation reflected in the November report.

Fayetteville also had a strong showing in August with taxes revenue of $1.525 million, up 9.1% from the year-ago period. The higher collections are linked to a record month in  the city’s hospitality tax collections as several large groups visited the city.

Sporting events — softball and baseball — drew roughly 7,000 people to Fayetteville in June as well as thousands who flocked to Wal-Mart’s shareholder meeting – although that happens every year. The Arkansas Pharmacists Association also held their annual meeting at the Chancellor Hotel in June. In total there were 10 groups visiting the city in June, creating an estimated $4.64 million economic impact, according the city’s Advertising and Promotion Commission.

The results in Benton County were not as good with Rogers and Bentonville each reporting less tax revenue than a year ago.

In Rogers the results were close as the city reported $1.212 million in sales tax revenue, down 0.9% from the same month last year. City officials expect collections to remain flat for the balance of this year as they are going up against a strong back half of 2013.

City officials recently told The City Wire their collections to date puts them at more than two-thirds of their annual budget. While there are several retail venues under construction, no major openings are slated for several more months. Twin Peaks and Whataburger are two new restaurants slated to open in Rogers by the year’s end.

In Bentonville sales collections have been up and down this whole year, up one month or two and down the next. August was another down month with revenue of $907,936, down 6.2% from the year-ago period.

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Multiple phone messages left with the city’s finance office since Friday (Aug. 22) were not returned. The city did post its June budget online which shows the city’s sale tax revenue collections through June were at 41% of its budgeted amount for the year. The report also showed a $32,000 sales tax rebate deducted in June.

In June, Denise Land, finance director for the city of Bentonville, told The City Wire collections through that point had been on a roller coaster but the city’s budget was fine despite lower collections from a year ago.

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