Counties hope holiday shopping closes gap on tax revenue

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Heading into the holiday shopping season local governments are still struggling to match last year's yearly revenue total, though many area jurisdictions reported an increase in monthly general sales tax revenue.

Last week local governments received their most recent sales tax payments, which saw increases of between 1 and 16 percent compared to the previous month.

While one month doesn't guarantee a quick recovery, officials like Cape Girardeau County treasurer Roger Hudson are hopeful the increase becomes a trend into 2010.

"These are not just sales tax numbers but actually reflect our regional productivity, which is directly related to citizens' fiscally responsible values, work ethics and character," Hudson said. "The credit goes to the businesses and people who keep working hard and save for hard times."

Like most cities and counties in Southeast Missouri, year-to-date revenue is down in Cape Girardeau County. Though the November payment is 8.79 percent higher, or $30,308 more, than the payment for November 2008, revenue for the entire year so far is down 2.68 percent.

Hudson said the increase in November was most likely because of a business paying a significant amount or a payment for October getting processed late. He said that if all businesses that pay a large amount do so on time, December sales tax will see an increase as well.

Scott County Presiding Commissioner Jamie Burger said that while he doesn't expect to match last year's total of $1,655,929, he is hopeful the approaching holiday shopping season will translate into a strong November and December at retail outlets.

Scott County saw its October payments increase from $100,502 in 2008 to $112,875 in 2009. Other municipalities that saw their November payments increase were Jackson, with $13,000 more than the $114,373 collected in November 2008, and Cape Girardeau, with about $74,000 more than the $444,000 received during the same period in 2008.

"One month is not much of a history, but maybe it is the start of the beginning of a turnaround," Burger said. "Like other counties we're going to face challenges on how to balance our budget for next year. While we know we won't make up the entire amount we're short from 2008, I'm hopeful we can at least make up some decent ground."

Dr. Bruce Domazlicky, an economist with Southeast Missouri State University, said the boost could be partly attributed to cars sold during the Cash for Clunkers program. The program that ended in late August boosted automobile sales and help retire vehicles that are less fuel efficient by offering $3,500 and $4,500 rebates for trade-ins of more fuel-efficient cars.

However, Domazlicky said he is cautiously optimistic regarding the latest figures, since they can be skewed up or down. The figures depend partly on how quickly the state gets the money back to local governments.

Rather, Domazlicky bases the recovery of an economy on comparisons of quarters. He predicts the third quarter to be down in retail sales by 6.4 percent compared to the same period in 2008.

"It probably means the worst is behind us and we will see retail sales start to pick up slowly," Domazlicky said. "The coming holiday shopping season is likely to see a slight increase over last year at best."


Sales tax figures through October

Cape Girardeau

2009: $7.871 million

2008: $7.877 million

2007: $7.83 million


2009: $1.827 million

2008: $1.885 million

2007: $1.94 million

Cape Girardeau County

2009: $5.557 million

2008: $5.71 million

2007: $5.7 million

Scott County

2009: $1.475 million

2008: $1.497 million

2007: $1.616 million

Bollinger County

2009: $685,939

2008: $756,996

2007: $768,676

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