Jonesboro and Craighead County sales tax revenue on pace to set new records

by George Jared (gjared@talkbusiness.net) 125 views 

Sales and use tax collections in Jonesboro rebounded in October after a 5.4% drop in September when compared to the same month in 2016. The city collected $1.501 million in sales and use taxes in October, a 7.21% increase from October 2016.

To date, the city has collected $14.865 million, a 2.65% increase from the previous year. Jonesboro set its all-time sales and use tax collection record in 2016 after it collected $17.326 million.

Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin said city officials aren’t certain as to why sales tax collections dropped in September. The city collected $1.396 million, a 5.42% drop. One possibility is the canceling of the Arkansas State University football game with the University of Miami scheduled for Sept. 9. Miami officials opted to not play the game in Jonesboro, as Hurricane Irma loomed in the Caribbean. The move was criticized because all other Florida college football teams played, and ESPN offered to move the televised game to Friday, Sept. 8.

The economic impact to the city losing one of its primary tourism attractions in the fall is not insignificant. ASU home games generate $1.285 million in out-of-town tourist economic activity per game, according to a study conducted by ASU. A marquee opponent like Miami would have lured a better than average crowd, meaning the impacts are likely greater.

Most road opponents ask for 4,000 tickets for fans, but more nationally recognized programs ask for upwards of 10,000. If 10,000 tickets had been sold, the tourism economic impacts would have ballooned to $4.251 million. The study didn’t tabulate spending by fans that live in the city correlating to the game or include tailgating.

Craighead County’s sales and use tax receipt collections also rebounded in October. The county collected $1.68 million, a 4.9% uptick from October 2016. To date, the county has collected $16.659 million in sales and use taxes, a nearly 3.7% increase from the previous year.

Civic leaders, economists, and others have competing theories as to why Northeast Arkansas has experienced consistent economic growth during the last four decades. The region’s diverse jobs base – agriculture, food processing, health and medical, Arkansas State University, professional services – have had an insulating effect, but economic gains are also tied to population growth.

Since the early 1970s, Jonesboro has grown by about 3% each year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. As of 2016, the city has about 76,000 residents. Jonesboro was the fifth largest city in Arkansas based on population in the 2010 census. The city is the second largest in terms of geographic size, only trailing Little Rock.

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