April tax collection rises 7 percent

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 20, 2001

Sales taxes for Natchez in April were more than 7 percent above the same month last year.

City Clerk Donnie Holloway said the check Natchez received Monday from the Mississippi Tax Commission from April collections totaled $412,753, up from $383,098 in April 2000.

&uot;This is very good news,&uot; Holloway said. &uot;It means that miscellaneous sales, such as our stores downtown, and miscellaneous services, such as hotels, cellular telephones and laundries did that much better this year than last.&uot;

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Overall sales tax collections from July 1, 2000, to date are up $119,542 as compared to the same period for the last fiscal year.

Furthermore, the tourism tax, an additional sales tax of 3 percent on hotel and 1.5 percent on restaurants, also rose 6 percent over last year, to $76,665 for April 2001 from $72,245 in April 2000, said Walter Tipton, executive director of the Natchez Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Tipton said the increase is significant and a confirmation of his assessment of March visitor numbers that some have termed disappointing.

&uot;Numbers in March had a lot to do with the cold, wet weather,&uot; Tipton said. &uot;We were up only 2.5 percent over March of last year.&uot;

April weather improved, however, and the higher numbers show day-trippers increased, he said.

&uot;The April numbers make me feel better about our advertising and other efforts,&uot; he said. &uot;But in order to increase our tourism, we have to offer new things.&uot;

Some significant material changes will take place in the coming year, he said.

&uot;Our biggest thing coming up will be the convention center.&uot; The center is scheduled to open in downtown Natchez in the spring of 2002 and already is booked for some events.

&uot;And then there is the opening of the Natchez Trace all the way into Natchez and the opening of the William Johnson House,&uot; he said.

The completion of the Trace into Natchez is under way, as is continued restoration of the Johnson House, the 1840s house on State Street built by the free black William Johnson, who gained prominence from a detailed diary he kept on life in antebellum Natchez.

Both the Trace and the Johnson House are projects of the National Park Service.

Tipton said that even with increased reason to want to visit Natchez, however, many would-be travelers are curtailing trips now because of high gasoline prices and high home utility costs.