Sales tax figures show local retail ahead of 2021

Published 8:52 am Wednesday, July 6, 2022

State sales collected by Batesville businesses dipped slightly in the latest reporting period, but remain ahead of last year’s figures, indicating that national economic slumps have only lightly touched local merchants so far.

City officials in Batesville, and all towns in the county, use the monthly sales tax diversion check as a gauge of local economic activity. Every business that collects state sales tax reports their numbers to the Department of Revenue, which then returns .185 percent of collections to the individual cities and towns in each county in Mississippi.

Those diversion checks are the lifeblood of municipal budgets and officials closely monitor factors that increase or decrease collections, including weather and labor issues, and more recently the pandemic and the resulting economic decline.

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Because much of Batesville’s retail business is from grocery stores, pharmacies, and general merchandise stores, and not high-end purchases, the sales tax collections here are less affected than those in larger municipalities.

Batesville’s share of the sales tax collection for April (latest month available) was $469,065, down about $39,000 from the same month a year ago. Year-to-date, however, Batesville’s checks have totaled $5.1 million, more than $100,000 ahead of fiscal year 2021.

In Sardis, collections for April were $29,694, about $4,000 off last year’s number. Like Batesville, though, the Town of Sardis is ahead of 2021 collections (if only by $700) with year-to-date checks totaling $335,030.

The data, available on the Department of Revenue’s website, indicates that December, 2021, was a major boost to the Batesville economy with enough sales tax collected to make the local share $503,357, more than $30,000 than the year before.

Batesville’s recent focus on Christmas draws, including a more decorated Square, and an expanded Open House is credited with some of the holiday increase.

The City of Batesville also collects an additional tourism and economic development tax of three percent on purchases made at hotels and restaurants inside the city limits. Those funds have been used, for the last 20 years, to service the monthly debt on the Civic Center, but that note will be paid in full this month.
To maintain the three percent tourism tax, city officials will have to submit plans for an approved project in coming months.

The most recent diversion check for the special tax was $144,958 and the city has collected $1.45 million in this fiscal year. For the same reporting time last year, the city had collections of $1.23 year-to-date.

Another factor for Batesville aldermen to consider when approving a budget for the upcoming new fiscal year is the additional sales tax that will be collected since the recent approval of the expansion of the city limits.

That move brought an extra 17 businesses into the city limits. Those businesses reported about $825,000 in state sales tax collections last year. If those businesses have the same collections this year, an additional $152,424 will be added to the total amount of diversion money sent to Batesville in the coming year.

New retail businesses have opened in recent months and two – a fast food restaurant and deluxe car wash – are currently under construction on Hwy. 6.