LIVINGSTON — For 22 consecutive months, Livingston Parish has shown increases in sales tax receipts when compared with the same months a year earlier, records show.
August sales tax collections jumped 12 percent compared with August 2011.
The added income arrives at an opportune time, some officials in the parish say, because they are dealing with hurricane expenses, soaring employee health insurance costs and other financial pressures to their budgets.
The most impressive number in the August records is a 107 percent increase in sales tax collections by the Denham Springs Economic Development District, which was formed to attract the Bass Pro Shops store to anchor a shopping center immediately south of Interstate 12.
Denham Springs Mayor Jimmy Durbin said a sales upturn in the DSEDD will help to pay off about $50 million in bonds early. That will shorten the time the city and other agencies have to wait to get the full amount of sales taxes from the district’s businesses.
The 107 percent increase was due to the opening of a Sam’s Club store in the DSEDD, said Mike Curtis, director of sales tax collections for the parish.
August collections by the parish from retailers represent their sales for July, which was the first full month the Sam’s Club store was in business, Curtis said.
The total amount of August sales taxes collected by parish governmental agencies exceeded $6 million compared with less than $5.4 million collected in August 2011, records show.
Superintendent of Schools Bill Spear said the increased tax revenue numbers are welcome in light of reductions in state funding.
“It certainly helps, but it doesn’t get us completely out of the woods,” Spear said of the increase in sales tax receipts.
The increase for Walker comes at a great time after the city just spent $100,000 for debris cleanup, Walker Mayor Bobby Font said.
“Sales tax is our main source of income,” Font said.
Parish President Layton Ricks said parish coffers need the infusion from the 1 percent sales tax dedicated to roads and the parish jail.
However, it’s still not enough to deal with the high cost of operating the parish jail, he said, adding that his office is trying to find ways of cutting the cost of that operation.
The 12 percent increase in total collections for the parish in August follows a 13 percent increase in July and a 15 percent increase in June.
Curtis said he expects the string of increases to continue.
The next couple of months may not appear to be as high because of a large refund that needs to be given to a couple of companies that paid too much in the past, he said.
That involved deliveries of merchandise to customers in other parishes, Curtis said, adding that the two companies incorrectly paid taxes to Livingston Parish rather than to the parishes where the materials were delivered.
Even when the refunds are removed from the total collections, Curtis said, he expects the parish to continue its string of revenue increases because the area’s economy appears to be sound.
The parish’s 3 percent hotel and motel tax also had a banner month, showing a 21 percent increase over the previous year, according to parish records.
The town of Livingston led the parish’s municipalities with a 26 percent increase.
Mayor Derral Jones said that increase comes at a good time because of storm expenses.
He said he expects the town’s sales tax revenue numbers to remain high for the rest of the year because of new businesses that have opened.
The city of Walker had an 11 percent increase, followed by the town of Albany with a 3 percent increase and Denham Springs with a 2 percent increase.
Durbin said he thinks the opening of a Walmart store in Watson has hurt sales at the Denham Springs Walmart.
The town of Springfield, which has volatile tax receipts, saw sales-tax revenue drop 5 percent when compared to the previous August.
Motor vehicle tax collections were up 10 percent for the second month in a row. Motor vehicle taxes do not go to the area where the deal was made, rather to the area where the buyer lives.
The Livingston Parish School Board’s 2 percent tax receipts were up 10 percent after being up almost that much a month earlier.
Tax collections for both the Sheriff’s Office and the Parish Council were 9 percent higher for the second consecutive month.