Sales tax trend continues

Parish sales tax revenue rose for the 24th straight month in October, Livingston Parish tax records show.

When compared with the same month of the previous year, October sales receipts were up 8 percent, continuing the two-year run.

Indications are that the trend will continue into the Christmas season, said Mike Curtis, who heads the parish’s sales tax collection program.

“We’re on the front doorstep of even better things to come,” he said.

The October collections from retailers by the parish represent sales that occurred in September.

“The three coming months will be exciting,” Curtis said of current sales tax collection expectations.

He projects the trend of higher collections will continue next year.

I don’t think Livingston has reached its potential,” Curtis said. “We haven’t reached our peak.

“At some point, you reach saturation, but that may not happen for three years,” he said.

The Denham Springs Economic District, which saw its sales tax collections rise 73 percent in October, compared with the same month last year, is drawing new dollars from Baton Rouge shoppers, Curtis said.

The economic district, which includes a Bass Pro Shops store and a Sam’s Club, are pulling in out-of-parish customers who then spend money at other area stores and restaurants, he said.

The likelihood of continued strong revenue from sales taxes is aided by the potential for new growth in Livingston Parish, Curtis said.

“I’m surprised the Watson area hasn’t exploded” since a Wal-Mart store opened there earlier this year, said Curtis, who added that he believes other “big box” stores will follow.

When that occurs, “it will happen quickly and it will be loud,” he said.

He said he also expects growth to continue to move eastward along the Interstate 12 corridor.

Parish President Layton Ricks said he also expects parish economic growth to broaden.

“Houses are beginning to move again in the parish,” he said.

That improvement in real estate sales along with the long-running increase in sales tax receipts “shows that the economy is stable” in the parish, Ricks said.

The sales tax increases have also been welcome in dealing with the parish’s need for money for roads and operation of the jail, he said.

“Every dime helps with a budget like ours, as tight as it is,” Ricks said.

The parish’s 1-cent sales tax funding roads and the jail increased 5 percent in October, compared with October 2011.

Along with the economic district, the big performer was the hotel and motel tax, which rose 73 percent in October, compared with the same month the previous year.

The amount of motor-vehicle sales tax increased 3 percent, compared with the previous October, records show.

The sales-tax collections across the parish totaled more than $6.2 million for October, compared with less than $5.8 million in October of 2011, according to parish records.