HAMMOND — The city of Hammond’s economy is on a 17-month roll, sales tax receipts indicate.
Sales tax collections for the first half of the year are up 7 percent compared to the first half of 2011, the city’s records show.
The first six months of the year are among 17 consecutive months in which the city’s sales tax receipts have shown increases when compared with the same month from the previous year, according to the records.
The city’s collections from merchants were up more than 9 percent in both May and June. Those collections represent sales that occurred in stores in April and May.
The numbers indicate not only a strong economy in Tangipahoa Parish, but also that people are staying in Hammond to make their purchases rather than going elsewhere, Mayor Mayson Foster said.
That’s because merchants in the city now offer “pretty much anything anybody needs,” Foster said.
“The investment that we have made in infrastructure in and around Hammond Square has been the catalyst,” the mayor said of the mall adjacent to Interstate 12.
The steady rise in sales tax collections is important to the city because “about 70 percent of our operating revenues and about 50 percent of our total revenues” come from sales taxes, Foster said.
“This is huge because we are continuing to see rising costs of operation, particularly in the costs of retirement benefits and insurance benefits for our employees,” he said.
Foster said he believes the city’s sales tax revenues are sustainable “assuming our long-term partners, such as Southeastern Louisiana University and North Oaks Hospital, continue to be successful in their growth rates and funding sources.”
The strong numbers in 2011 and the first half of 2012 follow two years in which sales tax numbers were down, city records show.
In 2010, receipts fell in nine of the 12 months when compared with the same months in 2009, which was already down from the previous year.
In 2009, collections were down for nine straight months, with the exception of a slight rise in December before dropping again for the first three months of 2010, according to city records.