story by Kim Souza
Sales tax revenue rose 5.6% across Northwest Arkansas’ four largest cities in January. Bentonville, Rogers, Springdale and Fayetteville cumulatively received more than $4.293 million in sales tax revenue, compared to $4.065 million a year ago.
Individually, Rogers posted the largest increase up 14%, while Bentonville and Springdale posted year-over deficits and Fayetteville’s revenue was flat compared to the year-ago period.
January’s revenue reflects sales tax collected in November, creating a two-month lag in the reporting. Each of these cites collect a 2% sales tax. One percent is devoted to bond repayment and the remaining 1% goes into the cities’ general fund. This report reflects the latter 1%.
January 2014 Revenue
Rogers: $1.245 million, up 14%
Fayetteville: $1.463 million, up 0.8%
Springdale: $808,255, down 4%
Bentonville: $776,256, down 12%
The dip in Bentonville collections came of the heels of a record increase in December. Denise Land, finance director for the city said 2013 was a very good year, with collections 16% over budget projections.
Duncan Donuts and Taziki’s Cafe recently opened in Bentonville, while Cracker Barrel and Chipotle Grill are under construction with openings expected in the first quarter. Several liquor stores have also opened in recent months helping to keep tax money local as well.
Rogers continues to post record revenue month after month and new construction sites along Interstate 540 near Pinnacle Hills remain active bringing more restaurants to the city. Chuy’s opened this month to big crowds reporting up to 1.5-hour waits most nights. Twin Peaks and the Longhorn Steakhouse are also underway with openings in the coming months. Baby Gap is also coming to Pinnacle Promenade, according to health department permits.
Activity in Washington County has been less robust, but the new Walmart Supercenter in west Springdale is slated to open later this year.
Springdale city officials said they were cautious with the budget last year, collecting some 3% more than budgeted. Mayor Doug Sprouse recently told The City Wire the city would stay close to those same projections in 2014.
Fayetteville reported near flat revenue for the month, but for the entire year tax revenue rose 2.84% to $18.043 million, from a year ago. Fayetteville is a major holiday shopping destination but inclement weather in December likely dented sales tax collections, according to some city officials. Those numbers won’t be out until next month.
With $10.825 million in revenue through November, the city sales tax collections were running within 1% of the budget, according to city records.
Sales tax revenue is closely tied to consumer sentiment, because consumers don’t typically spend as much money when they are concerned about their jobs or the overall economy. U.S. consumer confidence fell in November to a seven-month low as Americans grew more pessimistic about the labor market.
“Consumer confidence declined moderately in November after sharply declining in October. Sentiment regarding current conditions was mixed, with consumers saying the job market had strengthened, while economic conditions had slowed. However, these sentiments did not carry over into the short-term outlook,” Lynn Franco, director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board, noted in a Nov. 26 report.
When looking ahead six months, Franco said consumers expressed greater concern about future job and earning prospects, but remain neutral about economic conditions.
All in all, with such uncertainty prevailing, Franco warned that 2013 could be a challenging holiday season for retailers.
SALES TAX REVENUE (12-months)
2013: $18.043 million
2012: $17.544 million
2013: $14.286 million
2012: $13.179 million
2013: $10.103 million
2012: $9.436 million
2013: $10.469 million
2012: $10.266 million