Revenues improve across the board

Published 8:07 pm Thursday, December 23, 2010

Local officials are hoping the message about shopping at home is making a difference.

And, if numbers are any indicators, more people are spending their dollars in Selma and Dallas County. Most local governments operate a majority of their budgets off sales tax revenue. When the revenue is down, cities and counties scramble to make ends meet. When the revenue is up, cities and counties can maintain and sometimes expand services.

Local governments operate their fiscal years from Oct. 1 until Sept. 30.

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A look at Dallas County’s sales tax revenues for the fiscal years October 2008 through September 2009 and October 2009 through September 2010 shows an increase of $39,083.44.

The total for fiscal 2008-09 in Dallas County was $2,498,228.06. The total for fiscal 2009-10 in Dallas County was $2,537,311.50 for the increase. This doesn’t mean every month saw an increase in sales tax revenues.

Four months in fiscal 2009-10 saw deficits in sales tax revenues. Those months were November, $16,943.14; December 2009, $25,833.21; July 2010, $7,033.78 and August 2010, $5,169.75.

The last month the county has numbers is for September, which was $319.43 ahead of the previous year.

Probate Judge Kim Ballard said sales tax figures run about two months behind. The county should know shortly how much sales tax was generated in October and November.

Based on the trend, however, Ballard seems optimistic. “The sales tax seems to be creeping up steadily,” the probate judge said.

He does not know the answer to the climb except where he has had the opportunity to talk about shopping in Dallas County and Selma, Ballard has. He pointed to other organizations, the Selma-Dallas Chamber of Commerce and the Dallas County Economic Development Authority.

A key program sponsored by the chamber of commerce in November, “Green Saturday,” has yet to be realized in the way of sales tax revenues. Green Saturday was designed to get shoppers out locally prior to the big shopping day the day after Thanksgiving traditionally known as Black Friday.

Area merchants have told Ballard they are having a good year. And Ballard says that means confidence is coming back in the local economy.

If the trend continues on the growth side, “from a budgetary standpoint, we’re looking great,” he said.

At a recent Selma City Council meeting, officials said they are surprised at the increase in sales tax revenue.

In October, sales tax figures were $6,279.48 less than the previous year. But November’s collections were $22,648.57 above the previous year.

“This is the kind of good news we can use,” said Mayor George Evans. “This is very good news for the city of Selma. Let’s hope it is a trend.”

City council president Cecil Williamson said he also believes the reason the tax receipts rose rested with people who opted to purchase in the city rather than elsewhere.

“I hope this continues. It will be good for the entire area,” Williamson said.

In Valley Grande, sales taxes revenues increased from $10,582 in November 2009 to $22,913 in November 2010, according to city clerk Janet Frazier.

Frazier attributes at least $5,000 of the increase to the penny tax levied by the town council earlier this year on goods.

“Other than that, it’s just a good year,” she said.