NWA sales tax revenue rises 22.76% in July report

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 488 views 

According to their July reports, the combined sales tax collected by the region’s four largest cities in May totaled $7.57 million, up 22.76%. Revenue across the region has risen by double-digit percentages over the past three months of reports.

July revenue represents 1% of the local sales tax Bentonville, Fayetteville, Springdale and Rogers each collect monthly on goods and services. The July report reflects taxes collected in May.

Because the region’s businesses were shut down or operating at limited capacity most of 2020, this report will also make comparison’s against the same period in 2019. The regional sales tax report was up 15.45% from $6.56 million in July 2019.

Economists have expected elevated sales tax revenue to persist through the summer as consumers are getting out more often and traveling once again now that states have reopened. The caveat to that expectation is the growing number of Delta variant infections of COVD-19 and rising hospitalizations in Washington and Benton counties over the past few weeks.

Bentonville once again had the highest revenue gains from May taxes at $1.65 million, up 39.57% compared to a year ago. Part of the gain relates to the 22.8% revenue decline reported in July 2020. May revenue reported in July 2019 totaled $1.53 million, up 41% from the prior year.

With Bentonville’s largest employer, Walmart, mostly having its corporate employees working from home, the city has likely conceded some revenue over the past year. Thousands of employees are not making the drive into the city each day. While about one-third of corporate employees will return to the home office this month, the majority are not expected back until September, according to Walmart.

That said, Bentonville continues to add new eateries and shops and grow its entertainment scene with live music at the Momentary on the weekends, at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and in various neighborhood parks around the city.

Mayor Stephanie Orman said the city remains in solid fiscal shape, and she’s pleased with the sales tax revenue growth thus far in 2021. Bentonville’s sales tax revenue totals $12.10 million through the first seven months of reports, up 35.5% from the same period in 2020. Income is also up 11.1% from the same time in 2019.

In Rogers, sales tax revenue has rebounded nicely since the city has primarily reopened its entertainment districts. Rogers reports May revenue of $1.98 million, up 18.31% from a year ago and up 16.13% from May 2019.

The Walmart AMP continues to sell-out shows for the summer and fall season and recently announced that Jimmy Buffett would be performing on Sept. 14, with tickets going on sale Friday (July 23). The Railyard Live outdoor music venue in downtown Rogers also offers local and regional musicians entertainment opportunities that are primarily free for patrons on Friday and Saturday evenings throughout the summer and fall.

For the first seven months of reports, Rogers sales tax revenue totals $13.27 million, 13% more than the same period last year. Compared to the like-period of 2019, revenue is up 15.43%.

Springdale city officials are elated with the sales tax revenue reported in recent months. May revenue reported in July totaled $1.65 million, up 18.46% from the month a year ago. Income is up 19% from the July report in 2019.

Springdale won’t be left out of the entertainment discussion in the region, with minor league baseball played throughout the summer at Arvest Ballpark and live music on select dates at Turnbow Park downtown through Sept. 30. The Tontitown Winery just west of Interstate 49 also hosts live music Friday and Saturday nights throughout the summer.

This year, Springdale’s sales tax revenue totals $10.69 million through the first seven months of reports, up 11.8% from $9.56 million reported in the same period of 2020. Compared to the same time in 2019, sales tax revenue is up 19.6%, a non-pandemic period.

Fayetteville’s sales tax revenue reported through July totaled $15.44 million, up 16.92% from the same time last year amid the pandemic. When compared to the same period of 2019, sales tax revenue is up 19.53%. The city of Fayetteville continues to benefit from increased online shopping, the entertainment district reopening, and students back on campus at the University of Arkansas.

The May revenue reported this month totaled $2.28 million, the highest on record for the month. May revenue was up 19.42% from the same period a year ago, and it’s up 18.49% from May 2019. City leaders have said the $2 million sales tax revenue level had become the norm for most months this year. The city has exceeded $2 million in revenue for five of the seven months reported in 2021. In the same seven-month period of 2020 and 2019, the city exceeded the $2 million revenue level just one time each year.

Sales Tax Revenue (reported Jan.- July)

2021: $12.102 million
2020:$8.929 million
2019: $8.473 milion
2021: 15.442 million
2020: 13.207 million
2019: 12.918 million
2021: $13.277 million
2020: $11.748 million
2019: $11.502 million
2021: $10.699 million
2020: $9.567 million
2019: $8.939 million