Lower fuel prices and a growing population in Benton and Washington counties in 2015 helped fuel a 9.48% increase in combined year-to-date sales tax revenue for the region’s four largest cities.
Fayetteville, Bentonville, Springdale and Rogers reported $59.716 million in sales tax revenue for the past 12 months, above the $54.547 million in the same 12 months of 2014.
Revenue in the December report was a combined $5.475 million, up 17.41% over the same month last year. Each of the four cities posted double-digit gains in the December report, which reflects spending in October. Each city collects a 2% tax on goods and services, half of that goes to repay debt and the remaining 1% is funneled into the annual budget. This report reflects the latter.
DECEMBER REPORT (taxes collected on October commerce)
• Bentonville: $1.201 million, up 36.30%
• Fayetteville: $1.724 million, up 10.70%
• Rogers: $1.399 million, up 14.41%
• Springdale: $1.15 million, up 15.20%
City officials said October was a busy month across the region, with Razorback Football, craft fairs and various corporate events that brought in visitors and helped spur spending.
Each of the cities also have welcomed new restaurants and retail outlets over the past year. In Fayetteville, Freddie’s Steak Burgers opened in Fayetteville, Pei Wei Asian Kitchen opened in Rogers and Whataburger and Panda Express opened in Springdale. Burlington Coat Factory also recently opened in Rogers and a new Walmart Neighborhood Market and retail commercial center opened in downtown Bentonville.
Looking ahead, Steinmart is coming to the Pinnacle Promenade area of Rogers and CVS Pharmacy is planned for 1749 W. Walnut, according to pending permits with the Arkansas Health Department. Also on tap in Rogers is a new Foghorn’s Sports Bar slated to open its fourth area restaurant at 2221 W. Walnut in the coming months.
A Captain D’s Sea Food restaurant will soon be under construction at 909 S. Thompson. Fayetteville recently welcomed another Chipotle Grill on North College, near the location for Whole Foods whose opening, originally slated for October has been pushed to March 2016. A second Whataburger in Fayetteville on College Avenue is also slated to open in the next couple of months.
All four mayors in the respective cities have said their sales tax revenue exceeded budget projections for 2015. Bentonville Mayor Bob McCaslin recently said the economy is stronger, consumers are feeling better about their finances and it’s showing up in tax revenue and investment in both counties.
“I continue to be amazed at the growth we are experiencing in this region, in part because of the quality of life that can be found here,” McCaslin said. “I know job growth is important, but people chose to move here because it’s a great place to live and businesses want to be here.”
Fayetteville Mayor Lionel Jordan said he’s “incredibly pleased” with the tax collections and the growth in commercial and residential on both ends of town. Springdale has led the sales tax growth throughout much of 2015 and Mayor Doug Sprouse expressed his gratitude for that improvement as the city’s growth continues.
“We are very thankful for the steady increase in sales tax over the past several months. This revenue is the biggest factor in the city being able to provide services for our residents,” Sprouse said.
He expects the city will continue to see revenue growth through 2017 as Sam’s Club is expected to open in late 2016. Sprouse said when Sam’s Club pulled out of Springdale
in 2006 there was about a $1 million annual decrease in sales revenue for the city.
“The second Walmart Supercenter which opened at Elm Springs Road in the fall of 2014 has made a huge difference in our revenue growth, but it’s also exciting to see other areas in the city expand like downtown and out by the new Southeast Park which is expected to open in a couple of months,” Sprouse added.
Rogers city officials plan for conservative but steady growth in 2016 after the record year in 2015. The city’s sale tax revenue for 2015 came in $1.718 million more than budget, which was nearly twice the surplus revenue reported in the prior two years.
SALES TAX REVENUE (January through December reports)
2015: $11.401 million
2014: $10.007 million
2015: $19.682 million
2014: $18.307 million
2015: $16.118 million
2014: $14.877 million
2015: $12.513 million
2014: $11.353 million