Craighead County and its seat Jonesboro set all-time sales and use tax collection records in 2018, and 2019 started off on a pace that shows no signs of letting up.
Jonesboro collected $1.566 million in January, a 4.49% increase ($67,000) when compared to January 2018, according to the city. During the last five years, sales and use tax growth during the month of January has grown nearly 20% ($330,000).
The city’s collections are also ahead of the projected budgeted amount for the month. The amount collected is 5.61% ($83,000) more than was projected.
Craighead County’s collections were even stronger than the city’s. The county collected $1.773 million in January, a 6.7% ($112,000) increase from the same month in 2018.
Sales tax numbers released are delayed by 60 days, meaning the numbers released were actually for November 2018.
Jonesboro collected $18.184 million in city sales and use taxes in 2018, a 1.98% increase from 2017. Craighead County set an all-time collections record with $20.211 million, a little more than a 1% ($220,000) increase from 2017.
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 only Little Rock.
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.
Another city in Northeast Arkansas, Walnut Ridge, also experienced significant sales tax growth the first month of the year. The city collected $88,863, a 26.8% increase from January 2018, Mayor Charles Snapp told Talk Business & Politics. The figures do not include sales taxes collected for the planned improvements to the city’s waterworks and sewer systems, he added.
Walnut Ridge, the county seat in Lawrence County, has about a third of the county’s population, but accounts for about half the county’s sales tax revenue, Snapp said.