Sales Tax Figures for March Show Pass Christian
Struggling to Survive Economically
by Keith Burton GCN 4/20/07
The latest figures from the State Tax Commission on sale tax diversions to Coast cities show Pass Christian is struggling to survive economically. Sale taxes that are returned to the cities from retail sales from businesses are a key indicator of a community's economic growth, but is not the only indicator.
For Katrina-devastated Pass Christian, sales taxes are running only a third of what they were prior to the hurricane. Few stores have reopened in that city. What is disturbing is that sales tax collections fell from last year's collections at the same time. Sales taxes support a city's budget to help pay for such things as salaries and operating expenses.
The figures show some good news in Biloxi, Bay St. Louis and Waveland where sales taxes are sharply higher from 2006 figures. Bay St. Louis and Waveland are well above their 2005 figures, which are prior to hurricane Katrina. Biloxi has yet to rise above its 2005 collections, but is showing promise that it will soon do so.
Meanwhile, Gulfport and D'Iberville, which had benefited from the immediate post-Katrina rebuilding boom, are off from their 2006 figures. Many stores in those two cities were not damaged from the hurricane and benefited from people buying replacement cars and appliances, which are tapering off now. Both of those cities have seen a trend of lower sales tax collections since last summer, but they are still above pre-Katrina levels.
Jackson County cities are about even for March 2007 from their sale tax collections compared to 2006 but overall they are showing a downward trend. One exception is Pascagoula, which saw nearly a $100,000 reduction for March 2007 compared to March 2006.
Sales tax diversions to cities for March of 2006 represent taxes
collected in January 2007. Another thing that the figures indicate is that
there is still not a huge boom Coastwide in sales taxes as a result of
sales involving materials and goods connected to rebuilding, except in
Waveland where two new building supply stores have opened.