Sales tax revenue growth in October report slows in Northwest Arkansas

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 224 views 

The four largest cities in Northwest Arkansas posted combined sales tax revenue of $5.025 million in the October report, with growth slowing to 2.51% over the $4.902 million and 7.49% growth reported a year ago. Growth compared to the same reporting period in 2014 slowed in each of the cities, and all except Bentonville managed to keep the trend positive last month.

The revenue is comprised of a 2% local sales tax of goods and services collected by each city in August and remitted to the state the following month. The revenue comes back to city the next month, creating a two-month lag in the data. Half of the revenue goes to refund city debt and the other 1% is funneled into the city budget. This report reflects the latter 1%.

Bentonville’s sale tax revenue has been on a roller coaster course this entire year with wide swings in the month-to-month data. Last month Bentonville’s sale tax revenue dipped 3.33% from the same month in 2014. It was also down 22.4% from the September revenue. Through October the city has collected $8.933 million in sales tax revenue, which is up 7.38% over the $8.319 million reported in the same period last year. City leaders said they are on track for more than their budgeted growth in 2015 and well within their spending guidelines, despite the up and down monthly numbers.

Rogers reported October sales tax revenue growth of 5.5% last month at $1.344 million, the strongest October sales growth among the four cities. August was a back-to-school shopping month and being a major retail hub Rogers likely benefited from the increased consumer traffic.

Year-to-date Rogers has added $13.324 million to the city coffers from sales tax revenue, up 7.48% over the $12.396 million reported a year ago. The city’s tax revenue is running at 92.5% of the total budget projections for 2015 with two more months to go.

The recent opening of Burlington Coat Factory is expected to help generate more sales for the city as it’s the retailer’s only location in Northwest Arkansas. City leaders are confident that with the better local economy holiday sales should improve this year, perhaps helping the city to cap off another record year.

Fayetteville is also a major retail center and a back-to-school shopping hub which helped the city’s sales tax revenue grow 4.87% in the October report, compared to a year ago. The city added $1.735 million to its coffers last month and through October revenue totals are $16.257 million, up 7.05% from the $15.186 million reported in the same period of 2014.

Mayor Lionel Jordan told The City Wire that he continues to be amazed at the growth in sales tax revenue. In the past few years Fayetteville’s growth was trending lower than other cities in the region. He said restaurant growth and a better overall economy is likely the reason for the uptick.

Springdale has been late bloomer across the region and is playing catch-up to its neighbors, according to Mayor Doug Sprouse. But that doesn’t dampen his enthusiasm for the growth the city continues to see in sales tax revenue over prior years. While sales tax revenue growth in October was basically flat at 0.32%, city leaders are pleased with the year-to-date tally. The second Wal-Mart supercenter in Springdale opened in mid-September of 2014, making October the first year-over-year comparison with this added retail venue.

Sales tax revenue totaled $1.046 million in October, compared to $1.042 million in the same month last year. However through the first 10 months of 2015, revenue has totaled $10.318 million, up 10.11% from the $9.37 million reported in the same period last year. Revenue rose 17.9% from the same period in 2013.

Sprouse said the city’s growth is poised to continue with new restaurants like Panda Express recently opened and Whataburger slated to open before the end of the year.  The city has added an CVS Pharmacy in the past two years, a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market grocery store, and two new Casey’s convenience stores in the past 12 months. The city is also anticipating future growth from a Sam’s Club expected to open in 2016 and more development on the west side of Interstate 49 with a new Arkansas Children’s Hospital coming by 2018.

Sales Tax Revenue (January through October)
2015: $8.933 million
2014: $8.319 million

2015: $16.257 million
2014: $15.186 million

2015: $13.324 million
2014: $12.396 million

2015: $10.318 million
2014: $9.370 million