Jonesboro issued about $186 million worth of residential and commercial permits in 2016, a 23% increase from the more than $151 million in permits in 2015, according to the city. Last year’s total is the most ever in Northeast Arkansas’ hub city, said Mayor Harold Perrin.
“Jonesboro is growing … that’s a fact,” Perrin said. “It just keeps going and going.”
Sales tax receipts also set an all-time record. The city collected $17.326 million in city sales tax in 2016, a 4.43% increase from the previous year, according to the city. The total was 3.27% more than the city budgeted for the year. Since 2012, the city’s sales tax base has grown by 15.3%
Craighead County collected $19.372 million in county sales tax last year, a 5.2% increase from 2015. The total is also an all-time mark in the county. Since 2010, the county’s sales tax receipts have grown from $15.599 million, a 24% spike.
Jonesboro collected $514,413.29 in new building permit fees, a 53.7% uptick from the previous year. Those collections fees were for new commercial buildings, multi-family buildings, residential duplex buildings, and single family homes. At least $66,119,810 in single family homes received permits last year, a 43.4% increase from 2015. Commercial sales topped $59 million, a more than 40% increase from the previous year.
Steady population growth, business expansions, and two proposed convention centers drove building numbers last year, Perrin said. Jonesboro’s population has steadily grown from 3-5% each year for the last several decades. Jonesboro’s population is close to 75,000 residents. The unemployment rate has stayed below 4% for most of the year, meaning people are moving here to find jobs. Those people need housing, he said.
Building permit values and collection fees should remain steady in 2017, Perrin said.
St. Bernards is in the midst $130 million renovation project, and with each phase healthcare company will have to acquire permits. CFK Hospitality is building a $50 million convention center/Hyatt Place Hotel near I-555. Hilton Worldwide has announced plans to build an Embassy Suites Hotel and the Red Wolf Convention Center on the Arkansas State University campus. As these projects progress, more permits will be issued.
Frito Lay has sought $150 million in taxable industrial revenue bonds for a proposed expansion. Company officials think the expansion could lead to an additional 30 jobs, bringing the plant’s total number of employees to more than 500 workers.
City officials will ask the state to give them more specific breakdowns as to which businesses increased their sales tax collections last year, Perrin said. When they get the final report, he suspects retail sales, expenditures relating to medical care, restaurant sales, and others will be the driving force behind the strong sales tax numbers.
The mayor and city council members expect the city’s sales tax growth to continue as well. City officials estimate sales tax receipts will grow by 4% in 2017.