HOUSTON -- According to numbers released by the Mississippi Department of Revenue and Mississippi Tourism, Houston has had a record year in both sales and tourism tax revenues.
Since last October, the city has received over $1.2 million in sales tax revenues, up from an average of $1.06 million per year in 2017 and 2018. This represents a growth rate of 12%. Tourism tax revenues grew by over 10% (from $204,000 to $224,000) this year despite double digit losses during the depth of the lockdowns in March and April.
Chickasaw Development Foundation director, Sean Johnson, says that these are particularly good numbers for several reasons.
“First, our sales tax revenues increased in this past year by $132,000. While that may not seem like a large number, in relative terms to what the city had been doing historically it is a big deal. For example, the from the year before last until last year, the city’s sale tax income only increased by around $9,000. So, this year we have increased that income number over fourteen times. Second, this number represents actual sales that take place in our community. By dividing this increase ($132,000) by the local sales tax revenue rate that the city receives (1.26% after the state takes its cut), one can see that Houston businesses increased their sales in the last year by over $10,000,000. Over $95 million was spent in total over the last year in Houston. And, finally, in terms of economic development, rising tax numbers are good for business recruitment. It is difficult to attract a retail business or restaurant when tax revenues are falling or are stagnant. Rising tax revenues translate into growing business in the eyes of developers and investors and make our town much more attractive.”
Many other small towns in North Mississippi have also seen their tax rates grow, while some of the larger towns have seen them fall. According to Johnson, this may be a silver lining from the lockdowns earlier in the year.
“The bottom line is that more people were staying home and shopping locally. Just think of the effects of continuing to do this going forward. Let us continue to keep our dollars at home and see what happens. We really don’t need to continue funding other towns.”
Alcohol sales, which were allowed in Houston after a referendum last year, have also had an effect, though Johnson says that he doesn’t think that legalization was the main reason for the tax revenue increase.
“The sales themselves certainly had a part in the growth, but I think the bigger part of the growth came from people shopping locally.”