Apr 18, 2013 20:10 Hammond sales tax revenues continue to rise from 2012 Hammond sales tax revenues continue to rise from 2012 Vic Couvillion| Special to The Advocate April 18, 2013 Comments HAMMOND — Mayor Mayson Foster told the Hammond City Council on Tuesday that the city’s sales tax collections for February exceeded the amount collected in February 2012 by more than $99,000. Foster said he is “extremely excited” about the sales tax returns because February has traditionally been a slow month after holiday shopping in December and early January. Foster pointed to the rehabilitation of Hammond Square Mall and other retail outlets for the jump in sales tax revenues. In February, the city collected $1.439 million dollars in sales taxes, a gain of 7.3 percent over the $1.34 million collected in February 2012. For the past two years, sales tax collections have increased every month over the same time span the previous year with one exception: Returns for August 2012 were down by about 3.2 percent from August 2011 as a result of Hurricane Isaac, which slowed retail sales for a short period of time. Despite the good news, Foster said he is somewhat concerned about the city’s financial future. The mayor said the costs of running the city, especially city contributions to various employee retirement funds, are “growing exponentially.” Also before the council Tuesday: PLAYGROUND EQUIPMENT: The city will be installing modern playground equipment at Zemurray Park on Friday and Saturday, Foster said. The state-of-the-art playground equipment will be unloaded Friday and construction will begin at 7 a.m. Saturday. Foster said the Hammond Kiwanis Club is assisting with the project, and he invited volunteers to help with the installation. Zemurray Park has been undergoing extensive renovations over the past several months. CLEANEST CITY: Hammond has once again captured the district Cleanest City Contest title in a contest sponsored annually by the Louisiana Garden Clubs Federation. The city will be judged in the state contest later this month or in early May. Hammond has won the state title for the past six years. The mayor praised the Keep Hammond Beautiful Committee, city employees and local garden club members for their efforts in preparing the city for the contest.