Jonesboro, Craighead County end 2020 with record-breaking sales tax collections

by George Jared ([email protected]) 527 views 

The country has been dealing with the worst public health crisis in more than a century and the deep economic recession it triggered at the same time. The city of Jonesboro has been historically resilient during tough economic times, and once again that proved true in 2020 if one key economic metric is an indicator.

Northeast Arkansas’s largest city collected $1.62 million in sales and use tax during the month of December, a 1.2% increase from the same month in 2019, according to the city. For the year, the city hauled in $20.036 million – a 5.1% ($972,970) increase from 2019 and an all-time record for collections.

Retired Mayor Harold Perrin told Talk Business & Politics before he left office one of his proudest accomplishments during his 12-year tenure has been the unprecedented sales and use tax growth during his time in office. This growth occurred despite the two worst recessions since the Great Depression, a costly ice storm in 2009, and dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think we’ve done well with our sales tax collections,” he said. “It’s been much higher than you might think. This despite the big hit to our mall that was damaged by the tornado in March. Fewer people have been patronizing our restaurants as well because of the pandemic restrictions.”

The sales tax collections were higher than city leaders projected for the year. It was an increase of about 3.5% over budgeted projections. Perrin added he thinks collecting sales taxes online have helped to buffer the numbers.

Sales tax numbers lag by 60 days meaning the numbers released in December were collected in October.

The worst month for collections during the year was June when collections dropped 4.8% as the pandemic raged. The best month for collections was November when they rose by 11.6%. The month of September was close behind with an 11.5% uptick.

Craighead County, the most populous in the region, mirrored Jonesboro in terms of sales tax growth. The county collected $22.739 million, a more than 5% ($1.458 million) increase from 2019. It is the most in sales tax collections the county has ever reported.

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