Craighead County and its county seat, Jonesboro, could set all-time marks in sales and use tax collections. Craighead County has collected $18.523 million through November, a 1.1% increase from 2017, according to the Craighead County Treasurer’s Office.
In November, $1.706 million was collected, about $10,000 more than was collected during the same month in 2017. Craighead County Treasurer Terry McNatt told Talk Business & Politics the county could set a new mark in collections that it fell just short of last year.
“The increase was welcome news this month,” he said. “This six month trend is maintaining my optimism that we will see the $20,000,000 mark passed in 2018.”
Jonesboro mirrored the county’s collections numbers. About $16.655 million was collected through November, a 1.74% increase from the first 11 months in 2017, according to the city. City tax collections just in November were $1.507 million, virtually the same as was tallied during the same month last year.
The numbers are nearly identical to the budgeted amounts Jonesboro city leaders planned for last year. Through 11 months this year, the city projected to spend $16.619 million, but has spent $16.655 million, a .22% difference.
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 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.
Sales tax collection numbers are released 60 days late, meaning these numbers are from September transactions.
The city and county set records in sales tax collections in 2017. Craighead County collected $19.989 million in sales tax, a 3.1% ($616,288) increase from 2016. Jonesboro collected $17.83 million in sales 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.