NWA sales tax collections improve with April report

by The City Wire staff (info@thecitywire.com) 9 views 

The four largest cities in Northwest Arkansas reported collecting $4.31 million in sales tax revenue last month, up 8.61% from the April 2013 report. Sales taxes received in April reflects sales tax collected in February.

The cities of Bentonville, Rogers, Springdale and Fayetteville each collect a 2% sales tax on goods and services. Half of that is used to retire debt and 1% is funneled into cities’ budgets. This report reflects the latter.

Bentonville led the region in percentage gain by reporting $809,600 in sales tax revenue, up more than 20% from the same period last year. That said the city’s collections to date in 2014 are lagging last year by more than 9.4%. City officials aren’t concerned about the deficit noting that incoming revenue is slightly above the budged expenses and the year is still young.

All the area cities cite inclement weather since January as the main reason for the yoyo results month-to-month and lackluster results in the last four months.

The city of Rogers posted April revenue of $1.147 million, up 5.3% from a year ago.  With more restaurants and new retail coming online Rogers Finance Director Casey Wilhelm told The City Wire that collections are tracking 2% over budget so far this year.

“The weather has been tough for the whole region, but we are happy with our collections and look forward to more growth this fall with the completion of the Walmart AMP. We believe this will increase overnight traffic for concerts and should be great the hotels and restaurants in that immediate area,” Wilhelm said.

She said alcohol sales in the city have likely added to the growth year-over-year. 

“Out of the 5% we were up in April I would guess that at least 1% to 2% of that is linked to alcohol sales now that the county is wet. We don’t have any concrete data to that effect, but that’s my guess,” Wilhelm said.

In Fayetteville sales tax revenue rose to $1.456 million, up 6.1% from a year ago, according to the city report. The city’s revenue is tracking slightly lower than a year ago, but city officials were pleased with gains made last month.

Springdale reported revenue of $896,000 for April, up 7.3% from a year ago, according to the city report. So far in 2014 collections in Springdale are up about $22,000 from the same period in 2013. 

Consumer confidence is closely tied to sales tax and the Conference Board’s national index dipped in February to a reading of 78.1 from a revised 79.4 in January. It was weaker than initially estimated. The Conference Board noted in February the consumer six month outlook was tempered by more Americans citing income anxiety, higher heating costs.

Northwest Arkansas is performing better than the country as a whole in terms of jobs which local economists attribute to the continued gains in sales tax collections.