Van Buren, the second largest city in the Fort Smith metro area, has seen an almost 8% increase in sales tax revenue. Sales tax revenue to date from the 1.5% city sales tax is $5.007 million, 7.9% higher than the $4.638 million reported in the same period of 2020.
Of the city sales tax, a half-cent goes towards police, fire, parks and economic development. That tax was approved in 2012, according to Van Buren Mayor Joe Hurst. The other one cent goes into the city’s general fund.
The city’s share of the Crawford County 1.25% sales tax so far this year has brought in $2.234 million for the city, said Teresa Tankersly with the city clerk/treasurer’s office. Of that, one-half cent that goes toward police, fire, parks, and economic development. That is 13.2% higher than the $1.974 million collected during the same time period in 2020.
Crawford County’s sales tax dropped from 1.75% to 1.25% in July, according to the Sales Tax Handbook website.
“I am grateful that the sales tax numbers continue to increase in Van Buren. Our economy depends on the community supporting local businesses, and the numbers tell us we’re moving in the right direction,” Hurst said.
The city recently began to receive online sales tax revenue, he said, noting he believes that accounts for some of the sales tax increases it has seen.
“I hope that’s the case because we should be able to sustain those numbers in the future. Sales tax dollars are essential to city government because it is the main source of revenue that funds essential public services,” Hurst said.
In the first eight months of the year, the city of Fort Smith collected $13.8 million from its portion of the Sebastian County sales tax, a 15.02% increase from the $11.998 million collected through August 2020. Fort Smith’s 1% street tax – used for maintenance and new construction on streets, bridges and drainage – generated $2.23 million in August, an 11.55% increase from the $2 million in August 2020.