Through the first eight months of the year sales tax and use collections are slightly up in Jonesboro and slightly down in Craighead County. Jonesboro collected $12.098 million in sales and use tax receipts, a 1.1% ($131,502) increase from the same period in 2017, according to the city.
Craighead County collected $13.383 million in sales and use tax, a less than 1% drop ($35,000) from the same time period last year, according to the Craighead County Treasurer’s Office.
Sales and use tax collections in the August report represent collections from June.
Sales and use tax collections are slightly higher in Northeast Arkansas’s hub city, but the numbers are slightly down when compared to what has been budgeted through August. The city budgeted $12.191 million, Which is almost 1% less than has been collected. The city collected $1.568 million in August, a 1.62% increase from the same month in 2017.
After a succession of record setting years, governmental officials admit collections have stagnated on the city and county levels. Both the city and county set new records in sales tax collections in 2017. Craighead County collected $19.989 million in sales and use tax, a 3.1% ($616,288) increase from 2016. Jonesboro collected $17.83 million in sales and use taxes, a 2.91% increase ($504,075) from the previous year.
The county and city also set collection records in 2016. During the last five years Jonesboro’s collections have risen by 16%, and have steadily grown each year.
Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin previously told Talk Business & Politics he thinks one reason the city sales tax numbers have stagnated, despite other economic indicators showing robust growth, is the expansion of online sales. Items sold online are not subject to sales tax collection, and it has had an impact, but Perrin doesn’t know exactly what it has been.
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, and 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 had 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, trailing Little Rock.