January sales tax revenue mixed in Northwest Arkansas’ four largest cities

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 256 views 

January was a banner month for sales tax revenue in Bentonville, but the collection tally may face future revision.

The city reported a whopping 326% increase with $3.778 million in revenue compared to $886,077 in the year-ago period. Denise Land, finance director for Bentonville, said there are likely revisions rebates over the next 12 months that will make the number more realistic.

Bentonville’s triple-digit gains propelled the overall region’s sales tax revenue to a 55% gain in January. Bentonville, Fayetteville, Rogers and Springdale reported combined sales tax revenue of $8.219 million, well ahead of the $5.302 million a year ago.

January revenue reflects half of a 2% tax collected by the cities in November for goods sold and services rendered. The other 1% of the total collections is funneled into the respective city’s operational budget.

Rogers, a major retail center in the region, reported its weakest January revenue growth in more than five years. Finance Director Casey Wilhelm told Talk Business & Politics the city double checked the numbers with the state because at first glance they didn’t look right. She said the state verified the numbers as correct.

Rogers reported January revenue of $1.526 million, up 0.98% from the $1.511 million a year ago. The city budgeted $17.2 million for fiscal year 2018, a 4.24% increase over last year’s budget.

Fayetteville reported January sales tax revenue of $1.78 million, up 2.95% from a year ago. The January revenue was the strongest showing the city has had in more in than six years. City leaders expect strong February revenue that reflects December sales to be solid and modest growth through the rest of the year.

Springdale was the only city of the four to report less sales tax revenue for the month of January than in 2017. Springdale reported January sales tax of $1.134 million, down 3.55% from the $1.175 million a year ago.

Northwest Arkansas’ economy is expected to move forward at a sustained pace this year with population continuing to increase as well as wage growth outpacing the nation, according to Mervin Jebaraj, director for the Center for Business & Economic Research at the University of Arkansas. He said the region is expected to add about 6,000 new jobs this year with most of the employment sectors adding positions, with the exception of retail.

Jebaraj said there are many things going right in the region with a 2.4% unemployment rate, and a growing leisure and hospitality sector as well as expanding health sector. He said jobs and wage growth support increased consumer spending.