Jonesboro had its best city sales and use tax collection month ever in the February report. The city took in $1.952 million during the month, a 5% increase from the same month in 2018, which was also the former highest total ($1.859 million) ever collected.
Sales and use tax collections have a 60-day lag time, meaning the numbers in February represent taxes collected in December, which is typically the highest collection month of the year for the city. Jonesboro serves as a hub in Northeast Arkansas and many in outlying counties shop in the city.
For the year, the city has collected $3.519 million, an almost 4.8% uptick ($160,529) from the first two months of 2018. The total is more than 5% ($177,945) of the budgeted projections. Craighead County experienced explosive sales tax growth during the last couple of months, too. The most populous county in Northeast Arkansas collected $2.142 million in sales and use taxes, a 4.7% ($97,155) increase from the same month in 2018. The county collected $1.773 million in January, a 6.7% ($112,000) increase from the same month in 2018. For the first two months, the county is $209,198 ahead of last year’s totals ($3.706,965) a 5.6% upswing.
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.