Jonesboro sales tax numbers rebound, Craighead County revenue at a record pace

by George Jared ([email protected]) 237 views 

Jonesboro’s economic growth stumbled in recent months as sales and use receipts and building permit values declined. At least one of those indicators is on the rise again.

Northeast Arkansas’ hub city collected $1.48 million in sales tax in May, a 1.54% increase from the same month in 2016, according to city info.

For the year, the Jonesboro metro has collected $7.506 million, a 1.95% ($143,837) increase from the first five months in 2016. Jonesboro has had two months this year February (1.35%) and April (2.48%) in which its sales and use collections were less than the previous year.

Craighead County’s sales tax growth has outpaced its county seat in 2017. The county collected $1.675 million in May, a 4% increase from the same month in 2016, according to the Craighead County Treasurer’s Office. For the year, the county has collected $8.416 million in sales tax and use receipts, a 3.7% increase from the first five months in 2016. It’s a 14% increase from the same timeframe in 2014.

At least one other economic indicator in the metro area, unemployment, is also trending in a positive direction. When the year began the city had a rate of 3.3% and the number of employed totaled 34,811. Through the end of March the rate has dropped five-tenths of a point, to 2.8% and the number of employed rose to 35,679, a 2.4% increase, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Totals have not been seasonally adjusted.

Craighead County’s rate has dropped as well. Its rate dropped from 3.4% in January, to 2.8% by the end of March. The number of employed has grown by more than 1,200 workers since the beginning of the year, and the county now 50,752 people employed, according to numbers released. Craighead County is among the top five counties in the state in terms of low unemployment numbers.

The positive indicators come after a couple of months of economic slowdown in the metro. The city issued permits for $23.99 million in total construction projects in January-April 2017, a 43% drop from the first four months of 2016 when $42.508 million were issued, according to figures released by the city. It’s a 22.8% drop from the same period in 2015, when $31.108 million were issued.

The numbers released are a combination of commercial, residential, multi-family, and residential duplex buildings. To date 95 permits have been issued for houses; at least 12 residential duplexes with a total of 24-units have been permitted; about 27 multi-family new buildings with 78 units have received permits; and 8 commercial buildings have received permits.

Permit fees collected are also down. This year the city has collected $109,219 in permit fees, a 29.7% drop from the same four month period in 2016, and an almost 9% drop from the same period in 2015. One bright spot is new residential duplex collections. This year $14,720 worth of permit fees in this category have been collected, more than double the previous two years combined for the same time period.

Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin told Talk Business & Politics he’s not concerned about the month-to-month fluctuations, and he still thinks the city will surpass the $200 million mark for permitted construction projects, which would be an all-time record excluding 2011 when permits for the NEA Baptist Hospital pushed that year’s figure to $273 million.