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Sales tax collections boost Mississippi cities

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It’s a case of several municipalities in the Magnolia State seeing a resurgence at cash registers after the COVID-19 health crisis slammed the USA economy for over a year.

“We’ve always been pro-business here,’’ McGee said to explain Ridgeland’s economic growth. “We keep taxes low – we’ve not raised ad valorem taxes in my 32 years as mayor.’’

McGee uses the word “robust’’ to describe trends with sales tax diversions rising this spring. More businesses will be built in Ridgeland including: the Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux to a new McAlister’s on County Line Road. In a Madison County city attracting Costco customers, while showcasing excellent public and private schools, McGee believes the future looks bright.

Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins is delighted to see the new sales tax reports at City Hall.

"The City of Madison is fortunate to have many wonderful businesses that adapted during a difficult time to continue to provide services for our community.’’

Encouraging residents to spend locally is the message that Mississippi mayors constantly preach. Sales tax dollars are invested to strengthen budgets of the state’s municipalities year-round.

“Our residents realize the need to support our local businesses,’’ Hawkins said. Driving up sales tax dollars, she said, “allows the city to fund public services, including police, fire, parks and infrastructure.’’

Officials with the Madison County Economic Development Authority follow developments in Madison, Ridgeland, Canton and Flora.

All four municipalities exceeded their sales tax diversions for the first seven months of the 2021 compared to the same time frame for the previous fiscal year. The fiscal year runs from October through September.

For Madison County, that translates into a gain of $1,019,580 or a 6.76 percent increase in sales tax diversions, says Lauren Scheel, the group’s director of business development.

Leaders in other Central Mississippi cities offered their take on sales tax growth.

Shoppers never stopped coming to Sam’s Club, or Bass Pro in Pearl. They’re also spending at the Outlets of Mississippi mall. With last season cancelled due to COVID, baseball fans return to Trustmark Park for Mississippi Braves games starting May 4.

Pearl businesses served masked up shoppers, restaurants pivoted to drive-thru services, and curbside help. Restaurants reopened indoor dining.

Windham saluted employees at Kroger, Walmart and Sam’s Club for safely operating their grocery stores in the Rankin County community. “That allowed our residents to shop with confidence and for our stores to thrive.’’

Clinton alderman-at-large Ricki Garrett sees sales tax collections trending upward.

“Tax collections in the city of Clinton have primarily increased during COVID,’’ Garrett said. “This is due to increased business at big box stores such as Walmart, Home Depot and Kroger. Hardware stores and liquor stores have also done well.’’

The Continental Tire plant two miles west of Clinton delivered economic benefits by bringing  new employees to the region to buy homes and shop.

Due to the health emergency claiming more than three million lives worldwide, many hotels, restaurants, boutique stores and other businesses nationwide struggled to stay afloat. “We are thankful that business is returning to normal,’’ Garrett said.

Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker is pleased.  The last four months of 2021 tax revenue numbers showed a year over year increase. “The credit for our strong retail economy goes entirely to our business community.’’ They responded effectively during “a hard year for everyone.’’ February 2021 sales tax receipts in the city, for instance, rose to $2.3 million. November 2020 sales tax receipts of more than $2 million were the city’s highest on record for that month.

Long Beach alderman-at-large Donald Fraser sees his hometown’s economy bouncing back like neighboring Gulf Coast communities. Sales tax dollar collections are solid in the Harrison County community. “Long Beach has stayed level – and has even gone up during COVID-19,’’ he said. “The citizens really stepped up and supported our local businesses.’’

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