Natchez sales tax revenues rise

Published 11:40 pm Thursday, January 22, 2009

NATCHEZ — Sales and food and lodging tax revenues in Natchez are up.

The first four months of sales tax revenue reports in the 2008-2009 fiscal year show increases of 9.9 percent in August, 8.3 percent in September, 7 percent in October and 9 percent in November compared to the previous fiscal year.

Food and lodging taxes have also increased compared to the previous fiscal year.

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August shows an increase of 17.34 percent, September increased 26 percent, October rose 10.5 percent and November climbed 11 percent.

City Clerk Donnie Holloway attributes the increase to a higher volume of conventions in the fall months, as well as tourism and construction.

“We have a lot of activity in those months,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of construction going on in or around the city.”

He said sales tax revenue is of great importance to the city and that 42 percent of that revenue comprises the city’s general fund.

With a weak economy, and several slow tourism months to come, Holloway said he does anticipate some slack in revenue, however.

“I think we’re going to see a dip down,” he said.

Holloway said December 2007 saw a decrease compared to the previous year, and February 2007 didn’t waver too much from the previous year, but garnered no increase.

In March 2007, the revenue decreased.

He said tax revenues throughout the year are relatively cyclical, and highs and lows are anticipated during the different quarters.

Ups and downs stay in consistent patterns from year to year, he said.

And even though tax revenue is up for the four months reporting, Holloway said the city will still be careful with its budget.

“We still have to be cautious, just look at the economy,” he said. “We’re having a recession in our country. Usually this area is really the last to feel it and the last to come out of it.”

To combat the recession, Holloway said the city has asked its department heads to spend frugally.

“We’re being very cautious in our spending,” he said.

And monthly budget reviews conducted by Holloway, Mayor Jake Middleton and aldermen James “Ricky” Gray and Dan Dillard are key to maintaining the budget.

Those four city officials comprise the finance committee, something for which Holloway said he’s been asking for years, and was established during the current administration.

“It’s better to have eight eyes looking at the budget instead of two,” he said.