Hattiesburg sales tax revenue down in first month of fiscal year

Hattiesburg sales tax revenue down in first month of fiscal year

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Hattiesburg City Council learned during a budget amendment hearing that the city's sales tax revenue for the first month of the 2016-2017 fiscal year is down from the same time last year.

"Our sales tax, we're only received the first month's worth of sales tax in this new fiscal year, and it was down somewhat from last year," said Sharon Waits, Hattiesburg chief financial officer. "So that is a concern. I'm hoping it will pick up with our new year, and with the holidays coming up, that we will see a pick up and an increase in that."

Waits said ending cash balance and sales tax revenue is something the city monitors regularly.

"We're always aware of the ending balance in the cash fund, and we monitor these things on a monthly basis," she said. "As the sales tax revenue comes to us from the state every month, we monitor that and keep a running tally on it, so we know whether we're up from last year or down we're down from last year or whether we're meeting what we projected in our budget. That is something that we always keep up with."

However, with a number of adjustments to the city's budget on approved on Tuesday - including funding $3.2 million in open purchase orders from the last fiscal year, adding money and positions to several city departments like the construction, accounting and municipal clerk departments and boosting the city's paving budget to a total $1.6 million - Waits said paying close attention to tax revenue is essential.

"We did make some changes to add additional funding for paving through our road and bridge fund and our general fund, and we are adding a couple of positions that are basically already funded," Waits said. "We just needed to get the authority of the council to actually add the positions. All of those changes together brings the general fund ending balance to $4.5 million, and when you take out the Hercules settlement out of that, it leaves us at $1.5 million. I will tell you that I have checked on our sales tax (Tuesday) that we received in October, and we are a little behind schedule with the first month of sales tax collections there. So I am a little concerned with drawing down our ending cash this much. I'll have to monitor very closely our sales tax and our ad valorem tax when it comes in."