Fort Smith sales tax revenue up in 2014, beats budget estimates

by The City Wire staff ( 16 views 

Collections during 2014 the Fort Smith’s 1% sales tax for the street program topped $20 million for the first time since 2008. The 1% tax generated $20.099 million for the January-December reporting period, up 3.24% over 2013, and was above the budget estimate by 0.78%.

The city’s portion of the countywide 1% sales tax generated $15.625 million in the 2014 report, up 1.77% above 2013 collections, and up 1.29% above budget estimates. The countywide tax collection is critical because the revenue is a little more than 40% of the city’s general budget of roughly $42 million. A majority of the general fund budget supports fire, police and other critical city functions.

Kara Bushkuhl, Fort Smith’s director of finance, also said the franchise fee collections could provide $98,000 more than expected, and the property tax revenue could be up $85,000 more than budgeted.

“The tax revenues for the General Fund reflect approximately $382,000 in more revenue for 2014 than expected in the revised budget figures. I will have the actual revenues and expenditures for the General Fund once the 2014 records are closed,” Bushkuhl noted in her report.

Total collections of city sales taxes (1% for streets and 1% combined for water and sewer projects and fire and parks and recreation) was $40.198 million in the 2014 report.

Total collections of the Fort Smith city sales taxes in 2013 was $38.938 million. Collections in 2012 totaled $39.21 million, just ahead of the $38.684 million collected in 2011. The 2011 collections were 3.9% above the 2010 revenues of $37.23 million.

The countywide tax generated $15.353 million for Fort Smith during 2013, up 0.49% compared to 2012 and down 1.99% compared to budget forecasts. The countywide tax generated $15.279 million in 2012, just ahead of the $15.15 million in 2011, but lower than the peak collection of $16.61 million in 2008.

The city’s 1% street tax program collected $1.662 million in the December report, up 4.22% compared to December 2013. (Because the state of Arkansas has a two-month delay in reporting collections back to the cities, the city of Fort Smith — for budgeting purposes — has historically reflected the collections on a one-month delay. Which is to say, the tax collections remitted to cities in January are from taxes collected in November and transferred by merchants to the state in December.)

The city ended the year on a good note with respect to collections. Fourth quarter 2014 collections of the tax were $5.055 million, up 7.31% compared to the same quarter in 2013.

December’s countywide sales tax brought in $1.292 million to the city, up 3.88% compared to December 2013. Fourth quarter 2014 revenue to the city from the countywide tax was $3.943 million, up 7.32% compared to the same quarter in 2013.

Fort Smith 2% sales tax collection (1% for streets; 1% for water/sewer bonds)
2014: $40.198 million
2013: $38.938 million
2012: $39.210 million
2011: $38.683 million
2010: $37.229 million
2009: $37.554 million
2008: $41.226 million
2007: $37.858 million
2006: $36.840 million

Fort Smith portion of 1% countywide sales tax
2014: $15.625 million
2013: $15.353 million
2012: $15.279 million
2011: $15.15 million
2010: $14.89 million
2009: $15.04 million
2008: $16.61 million
2007: $15.15 million
2006: $14.71 million