Economic Development Authority of Jones County
153 Base Drive, Suite 3 Laurel, MS 39440
P. O. Box 527, Laurel, MS 39441
(601) 649.3031 | FAX (601) 428.2047
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | www.edajones.com
February sales brought some unexpected smiles to city administrators across the Pine Belt.
New businesses in Hattiesburg, Purvis and Petal perked up what normally are post-holiday dips in sales tax diversions.
"We received some information, and while it wasn't specific, we did have an increase in sales, (in part) based on new businesses we have in the city," said Connie Everett, City of Hattiesburg chief financial officer. "We're seeing an increase in business, so we were very pleased to see that. It was actually very good."
Mississippi Department of Revenue sales tax diversion checks were based on sales made in February.
The state used those figures to tabulate March sales tax, and cities received their diversion checks for that period in April.
Hattiesburg collected about $1.76 million, a 6.3 increase over its March 2011 diversions.
Everett said after seven months, the city was ahead of its diversions estimates for 2011-12 by more than 3.5 percent.
"We're doing pretty good," Everett said.
Everett said the economy is showing signs of slow growth, "which is good."
"You start having these volatile swings, where you're seeing sky-rocketing growth, you know that it's going to swing back, too," she said. "We don't need another 2008-09."
Petal topped its estimated monthly sales tax of $179,000, collecting $183,186 in March.
That closed what had a been a $30,000 deficit, and after seven months, brought Petal within range of its diversion budget for 2011-12.
"We're on target, real close and we're happy with that," Petal Mayor Hal Marx said. "That very first month, we were $30,000 below from the (same) the year before, and that's the only huge discrepancy we've had for the whole year.
"Unfortunately, that put us in a hole that we've been trying to get out of ever since. But, (the projected diversions are) a rolling average (from month to month), and lately, we've been seeing positive numbers, so we're happy with that."
Even better: Marx said Petal had 10 new businesses apply for privilege licenses within the past month.
"A lot of them are businesses being operated from homes, but it's still good for our residents and maybe a sign of better times that we can build on down the road."
Boosted by sales from its recently-opened Fred's and a rejuvenated Pine Belt Ford, Purvis took in $9,468 more than in March 2011, a 20.3 percent increase.
"Good gracious," Mayor Roger Herrin said. "We're rolling."
"I kinda figured that (Fred's) would make a difference. It's kinda cool to have a baby Walmart - that's what folks are calling it - here in Purvis."
Sumrall continued to roll as well, topping $30,000 for the sixth time in its fiscal year's first seventh months.
The city took in $31,022, an 18.4 percent increase over the previous March, and was about 13.3 percent ahead of its diversion projections after seven months.
"We're over budget, and we still don't have any answers why, we really don't," City Clerk Jo An Robbins said.
Lumberton has seen its diversion checks start to even up from the previous year.
The city received $14,604 in March, $445 more than March 2011.
And while city officials said they'd love to see larger numbers, the more consistent figures has aided the budgeting process.
"Absolutely," City Clerk Stephanie Mullings said, "but sales tax is just a tiny, little piece of the (financial) puzzle."
Laurel also continued with its strong sales.
Its first seven diversion checks this fiscal year have been bigger than each of the seven months in the previous year.
"We're rockin' and rollin', seven months in a row now," City Administrator Dennis Keveryn said.
Laurel received $747,531 in March, a 3.1 percent increase over March 2011.
That put the city nearly $403,000 - about 8.4 percent - ahead of its diversion estimates for 2011-12.
Ellisville also was up for the month, taking in $68,491, which was 5 percent more than in March 2011.
By Tim Doherty