Northwest Arkansas sales tax revenue dips in March, up 5.3% year-to-date

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 155 views 

Sales tax revenue among Northwest Arkansas’ four largest cities in March was a combined $4.333 million, down 2.11% compared to $4.426 million received in the same month last year. Rogers was only city among the four to show sales tax growth, with Bentonville, Fayetteville and Springdale posting declines.

March revenue reflects the 2% tax collected on the sale of goods and services in January, reflecting a two-month lag in the data. Each city collects a 2% tax, half of which is applied to debt repayment and the other 1% flows into the city’s general fund. This report reflects the latter.

March Sales Tax Revenue
• Bentonville: $771,121, down 9.71%
• Fayetteville: $1.415 million, down 4.53%
• Rogers: $1.186 million, up 5.72%
• Springdale: $959,908, down 0.64%

The revenue decline comes on the heels of a 13% regional gain reported last month. But city officials agree one month does not a year make. Bentonville Mayor Bob McCaslin said recently that the city continues to grow and sales tax revenue has been solid overall, despite month-to-month ups and downs. Last month Bentonville’s sale tax revenue was up 46.72%, after beginning the year down 14.63%.

March revenue in Springdale was flat against last year and it was also the first month the city didn’t top $1 million since April 2015. Springdale’s flat results come on the heels of a 9.75% sales tax revenue growth in February and a 7.95% increase in January.

Rogers did not have the best start to 2016 after a strong finish in the final months last year. But it’s the only city among the four to see collection gains each reporting month in 2016. The 5.62% revenue growth in March, was also better than the 3.69% revenue increase the city reported last month.

Fayetteville’s revenue in the March report is typically the low month of the year given that many college students have gone home for the winter break. The 4.53% revenue decrease Fayetteville reported in March was the first down month for the city this year after revenue gains of 7.2% and 8.08% in January and February, respectively.

Year-to-date, the four cities have received $15.188 million, up 5.33% over the $14.419 million in sales tax revenue generated in the same period last year.

Sales tax revenue is tied to consumer confidence in the corresponding month, but outside variables such as weather or market volatility can also impact spending. Northwest Arkansas had cold weather in January, but no snow impacting mobility, but U.S. financial markets were volatile during the first several weeks of 2016.

The Consumer Confidence index rose to 98.1 in January, up from a revised 96.3 in December 2015.

“Consumers’ assessment of current conditions held steady, while their expectations for the next six months improved moderately,” Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board, said in a release. “For now, consumers do not foresee the volatility in financial markets as having a negative impact on the economy.”

SALES TAX REVENUE (January through March reports)
2016: $2.727 million
2015: $2.54 million

2016: $5.112 million
2015: $4.916 million

2016: $4.208 million
2015: $3.994 million

2016: $3.139 million
2015: $2.967 million