In an e-mail this week to county officials and media, Greene County Treasurer Debbie Cross said the the amount of sales tax revenue received from the 1-cent sales tax for July are 13.21 percent higher than the same figure for last July.
“This is an all new ‘2nd highest ever’ sales tax month,” she wrote.
The amount of sales tax revenue the county received came to $187,117 out of $587,612 total. (The balance, 63 percent of the total, goes to the city of Paragould). The number compares to $165,277 (out of $519,027) received last July. In addition, she said, sales tax receipts to date for 2020 are 6.91 percent higher than they were last year.
Cross noted Friday that, as always, the funds received from the state in a given month actually reflect taxes collected two months ago, such that taxes collected in May are submitted to the state of Arkansas in June, while the turn-back funds come back to the county in July.
Along those lines, figures made available to the county judge and Quorum Court members for each Quorum Court meeting also show increases in May and June over the given months in the preceding year. They also show an overall increase from May to July.
In May the county received $183,205 out of $478,283. In June it received $174,416 out of $547,727, while in July (as noted above) it received $187,117 out of $587,612.
Cross said the tax revenue increases were by no means limited to Greene County.
“Out of the 75 counties in Arkansas,” she said, “70 showed sales tax revenue increases, four showed decreases and one doesn’t collect sales tax.”
The figures Cross made available reflect taxes actually collected in March, April and May, during the early days of the COVID-19 public health emergency in which many businesses were shut down or faced great restrictions on how they might conduct business; many saw employees laid off. Cross had therefore warned at previous Quorum Court meetings that tax revenue should be expected to decrease, given loss of purchasing power due to the layoffs and lost business revenues.
Sales tax figures for the current year also include taxes collected on sales over the Internet that had previously not been collected.
“And since a lot of people don’t want to get out,” Cross suggested, “they may be buying what they can’t get in town over the Internet.”
Teresa Stormes, financial director for the city of Paragould, suggested that given the caution people appear to be exhibiting regarding travel, they were not traveling out of the county for any vacations, either. “So that money is staying in the county,” she said. “They [residents] are not going to Florida, but are doing stuff with their families at home.”
Stormes added the increased sales tax revenue could also reflect the impact of stimulus checks received – and being spent – by county residents inside Greene County.