Northwest Arkansas cities report mixed July sales tax, up year-to-date

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 296 views 

Sales tax revenue totaled $33.845 million through July of this year among the four largest cities in Northwest Arkansas, up 8.4% over the $31.22 million reported in the same period last year.

City officials in Bentonville, Fayettteville, Rogers and Springdale are all pleased with the year-to-date results though revenue has varied month-to-month. Each of their finance directors say their respective city’s revenue to date is still tracking above the budgeted levels and up between 6% and 12% over a year ago among the four cities.

That said, sales tax revenue in July was up just slightly (0.88%) at $4.979 million among Northwest Arkansas’ four largest cities. A year ago the four cities reported a combined $4.936 million. The July sales tax is a result of a 2% local tax on goods and services sold in May. Each of the cities in this report uses half of that revenue for debt retirement and the other half is funneled into the city’s annual budget. This report tracks the later.

The July results were mixed among the four cities.
• Bentonville: $896,687, down 11.3%
• Fayetteville: $1.621 million, up 3.08%
• Rogers: $1.312 million, up 0.28%
• Springdale: $1.129 million, up 10.29%

Bentonville, the smallest of the four cities has the most volatile collections month-to-month, but throughout the first seven months of 2015 sales tax revenue is up nearly $500,000  or 8.6% more than the same period of 2014.

Mayor Bob McCaslin expects a busy summer for visitors in his city, led in part from the unveiling of the Amazeum children’s discovery center which officially opened July 15. He expects the $24 million children’s museum will host 160,000 visitors this year. Crowds on opening day exceeded 2,000 and some 1,600 members got their first look at the interactive museum on July 13 in a sneak peek event.

McCaslin said the city continues to draw interest from restaurant owners and franchises wanting to locate there. Smashburger recently opened and the Bellfry restaurant and club continues its renovation downtown and is expected to open this fall.

Rogers officials also expect improved summer sales tax revenue based on the number of the conventions and sporting tournaments booked in the first to middle part of the summer. On the retail front Pei Wei and Roma Italian restaurants are now hiring and set to open in the next few weeks. The new Whataburger near Pleasant Grove Road is taking shape and expected to open this fall as is the new Burlington Coat Factory located next door.

In Washington County, Springdale Mayor Doug Sprouse looks forward to the new Sam’s Club which is supposed to open next year. He said the higher sales tax seen from the two newest Wal-Mart projects — a supercenter at Elm Springs Road and the Neighborhood Market on Don Tyson Parkway — are already having a positive impact on sales tax dollars in the city. Panda Express will also open soon near Elm Springs and a third Whataburger is slated in the immediate area of northwest Springdale.

Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan recently told The City Wire that Fayetteville’s sales tax numbers are exceeding expectations in 2015 thanks in part to a number of restaurants across the city. The opening of Whole Foods in September also is expected to help the city ring up more revenue in the last quarter of the year.

Sales Tax Revenue (January through July)
2015: $6.282 million
2014: $5.784 million

2015: $11.231 million
2014: $10.523 million

2015: $9.21 million
2014: $8.599 million

2015: $7.119 million
2014: $6.313. million