Fort Smith 2017 sales tax revenue sets record at more than $42.4 million

by Aric Mitchell (amitchell@talkbusiness.net) 274 views 

Sales tax revenue for 2017 finished just ahead of 2016 with $42.408 million, culled from a 2% rate that includes 1% for Fort Smith’s streets program, 0.75% for bond issues, and 0.25% divided evenly between the parks and fire departments.

The performance marked an increase of 0.23% over 2016’s $42.313 million tally. Fort Smith Finance Director Jennifer Walker said sales taxes recovered in December after a 1% drop the previous month. For the final 31 days of the year, the tax brought in $3.54 million compared to $3.469 million in December of 2016.

The 2017 collection was a record for the city.

Walker estimated $42.246 million in city sales tax revenues for 2017, so the final number beat expectations by $162,286, or 0.38%.

Breaking the numbers down further by department, the streets program received the largest share at $21.204 million compared to $21.156 million in 2016; bond issues were next in line with $15.903 million against $15.867 million; and parks and fire received $16.691 million, or $8.345 million each against $16.58 million ($8.29 million each) the previous year. For December, these numbers show a month-to-month improvement of just over 2%.

The city’s share of the county sales tax for December 2017 climbed slightly higher (0.81%) from the previous December, with the month turning in collections of $1.377 million against $1.366 million. The city’s share of county sales tax revenue for the year finished at $16.691 million, 0.67% above 2016’s $16.58 million and 0.02% below budget, which is about $3,146 less than expected. The county revenue to the city also marked a new record.

Final 2017 revenue from franchise fees totaled $5.945 million, a 1.16% improvement from 2016’s $5.877 million. In October, the fees — collected from utilities like AT&T, OG&E, AOG, and Cox Cable — were in the midst of a three-year losing streak when comparing 2017 with the two previous years.

In 2015, the $6.388 million posted was a 5.77% drop from 2014’s $6.78 million. The 2016 figure went down an additional 8%. However, Walker noted in November, fees were just 6% below budget due to timing of fourth quarter payments.

“Finance expects franchise fees to end the year at or slightly above budget.” November and December collections proved that prediction correct, leading to a 3% variance in the city’s favor from its budgeted estimate of $5.75 million.

On Dec. 5, the city’s Board of Directors voted to increase franchise fee rates from 4% to the maximum allowable rate of 4.25%. The move is estimated to generate an additional $554,000 annually.

PREVIOUS ANNUAL SALES TAX COLLECTION INFO
Fort Smith 2% sales tax collection (1% for streets; 0.75% for 2012 water/sewer bonds; 0.25% for fire and parks)
2017: $42.408 million
2016: $42.313 million
2015: $40.76 million
2014: $40.198 million
2013: $38.938 million
2012: $39.21 million
2011: $38.683 million
2010: $37.229 million
2009: $37.554 million
2008: $41.226 million
2007: $37.858 million
2006: $36.84 million

Fort Smith portion of 1% countywide sales tax
2017: $16.691 million
2016: $16.58 million
2015: $16.09 million
2014: $15.625 million
2013: $15.353 million
2012: $15.279 million
2011: $15.15 million
2010: $14.89 million
2009: $15.04 million
2008: $16.61 million
2007: $15.15 million
2006: $14.71 million

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