Fort Smith share of county tax up almost 10% through November

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 771 views 

For the first time in 2022, Fort Smith sales tax numbers came in lower than anticipated. The city’s portion of the Sebastian County sales tax totaled $1.938 million in November, up 0.31% compared with November 2021.

The city had budgeted $1.968 million for the month, bringing the actual revenues in at 1.51% under budget. November’s sales tax report reflects sales tax collections from September.

“The small amount under budget for the month of November is still above 2021’s sales tax collections for the same month,” said City Administrator Carl Geffken. “We will be keeping a sharp eye on revenues and expenses in 2023 to make sure revenues and expenses are in line.”

The countywide sales tax generated roughly $21.522 million for Fort Smith through the first 11 months of this year, about 10% higher than the $19.568 million generated through November 2021. The city’s share of the countywide tax is closely watched because the revenue provides money for the city’s general fund budget, with much of that budget paying for police, fire and other essential city services.

Fort Smith’s 1% street tax – used for maintenance and new construction on streets, bridges and drainage – generated $2.388 million in the November distribution, up 0.5% from the $2.376 million reported in November 2021. The total for the month was down 1.33% from the revised budget estimate of $2.42 million. The budgeted estimate was updated in October as the city worked to finalize a budget for 2023, using known figures from 2022.

“Now that the city has approved the amended 2022 budget, the higher estimates for sales tax revenues are now official. Now that we have incorporated the higher sales tax collections in the remainder of the 2022 and entire 2023 budgets, we are using the higher revenues to operate the city, perform additional Parks or Fire projects, and devote additional funds to the consent decree,” Geffken said.

Through November, the city has collected $26.369 million from the street tax, about 8.5% more than the $24.304 million collected through the first 11 months of 2021.

“We were reticent to incorporate the higher sales tax amount initially because we did not know whether the higher collections were a one-time blip or would remain consistently higher,” Geffken said. “Based on the last two years of data and the future expansion we project for Fort Smith, it is prudent and correct to incorporate the higher sales tax collections into future budgets.”

In 2021, Fort Smith’s share of the 1% Sebastian County sales tax was $21.055 million, 15.4% more than 2020 and up 18.14% over the city’s budget estimate. The 2021 total was $3.23 million more than city officials budgeted to spend within the general fund budget. The tax has posted year-over-year gains over the past several years, but 2021’s jump was the largest seen during recent years.

The 1% street tax generated $26.8 million in 2021, up 18.27% over 2020. The city’s share of the county-wide tax was $21.599 million in 2021, up 18.38% from 2020.

Fort Smith 1% sales tax collection for streets
2021: $26.8 million
2020: $22.66 million
2019: $21.73 million
2018: $21.503 million
2017: $21.204 million
2016: $21.156 million

Fort Smith portion of 1% countywide sales tax
2021: $21.599 million
2020: $18.246 million
2019: $17.265 million
2018: $17.043 million
2017: $16.691 million
2016: $16.58 million