Sales tax revenues end year with double-digit gain

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

2020 totals show striking disparities for Pierce City, Aurora

For the seventh time in eight months, since the economic impact of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic began showing itself in monthly sales tax, revenues to local cities and county governments ended the year with a double-digit percentage gain, showing gains for all but three recipients.

Year-end totals surpassed expectations, jumping more than 5 percent in most cases, while all three towns nearest to Monett dipped for the year.

For the eighth consecutive month, Monett saw sales tax revenues grow over last year. The city’s two sales taxes supporting the general fund at 1 percent generated $196,709.36, the second largest sum in 14 years, up $15,124.30, or 8 percent, over last December. The total was still nearly $22,000 under the 2017 record.

Monett’s nine-month fiscal year total hit a new record at $1,661,163.02, up 9 percent from a year ago. It was the third consecutive year for the nine-month total to increase, and the first time it has ever topped $1.6 million in December.

Around Monett, the news was not nearly as good, especially in Pierce City. That town’s two sales taxes bolstering the general fund at 1.125 percent added $8,304.31 to city coffers, down $4,814.70, or 37 percent, from a year ago. It was the lowest December sum in 10 years, when the second tax was added. With receipts down in four of the last five months, Pierce City’s eight-month fiscal year sum of $79,694.91 still squeaked ahead of last year’s pace by nearly $1,700 and remains at a record level.

Purdy’s 1 percent tax supporting its general fund produced $3,597.08, the second smallest amount in 11 years, when the city dropped to one tax for paying general bills. The sum was down $1,431.43, or 29 percent, from a year ago, leaving the six-month fiscal year total at $33,092.68, about $1,400 under last year’s pace, the lowest level in four years, but at the median amount — five years higher and five lower — for what Purdy has seen over the last 11 years.

Verona saw receipts from its 1 percent sales tax paying general bills drop for the fourth time in five months. The $2,373.06 sum was down $749.42 from last December. That put the city’s nine-month sum at $27,856.04, the smallest amount in three years, though larger than every year before that except for 2006.

Sales tax for all the bi-county cities and the county governments in December totaled $2,311,704.51, up 16 percent from a year ago, the second largest percentage jump in 25 years, behind the 28 percent jump in 2017. Those were the only two years in the past 25 to muster gains on that level.

The seven Barry County cities taking in sales tax received $736,096.38, up 12 percent from last December, with only Purdy failing to best the mark a year ago.

Cassville’s 1 percent tax took in $104,453.60 for its general fund, up $15,937.54, or 18 percent. Seligman’s 1 percent general fund tax generated $10,868.85, topping $10,000 for the eighth consecutive month. That reflected a $2,386.48, or 28 percent gain for the month.

Wheaton showed gains for the second month, after three consecutive months of drops, taking in $6,380.78, up $2,627.80 or nearly two-and-a-half times last December’s amount. Washburn’s 1 percent tax received $3,695.32, up $326.79 from a year ago. Exeter’s 1 percent tax produced $2,690.98, a gain of $514.18.

Lawrence County’s six cities collecting sales tax collected $553,543.25, up 14 percent from a year ago. Only Pierce City and Verona fell short of last December’s numbers.

Aurora’s 1 percent sales tax for its general fund generated $116,583.88, up $19,791.39, or 20 percent, from a year ago. Mt. Vernon’s 1 percent tax for paying general bills produced $81,914.78, up $7,481.15, or 10 percent, from last December. Marionville’s 1 percent tax received $20,417.77, a gain of $3,036.80, or 17 percent. Miller’s two sales taxes at 1.5 percent provided $14,034.80 for the general fund, up $2,308.40, or 20 percent, above a year ago.

Countywide taxes took full advantage of the municipal gains to boost their own sums. Barry County’s two .5 percent taxes for paying general bills and supporting road and bridge maintenance each took in about $216,985, each up about $35,408, or nearly 20 percent.

Lawrence County’s .5 percent sales taxes for the same purposed each yielded about $159,140, each up by more than $21,880 or 16 percent. The .5 percent law enforcement sales tax received $159,070.37, a gain of 17 percent.

Barry County’s separate .375 percent sales tax for its 911/central dispatching service received $162,699.24 for the month, up $26,539.31, or nearly 20 percent over a year ago.

Lawrence County’s .5 percent sales tax supporting 911/central dispatching received $158,906.33, up $64,559.76 from the second month of collections a year ago.

Total tax numbers

The following tax amounts reflect the total amount of tax collected by each city and county, in 2019, as compared to 2018.

Aurora, with four taxes, generated $2,932,533.90, up 2.5 percent, the smallest gain of any major bi-county city. Aurora changed its police/fire tax this year to a capital improvements tax, after questioning the legitimacy of a tax for that purpose. For its use tax, the city took in $220,706.83, also a gain of 2.5 percent increase.

Cassville, which collected four taxes, took in a total of $2,545,285.74, a gain of $64,249.18, or 9 percent.

Exeter, with one tax, collected $25,240.70, up 18 percent.

Marionville, which has five taxes, collected $484,999.47, up 10 percent after a 2 percent drop in 2019.

Miller, which collects five taxes, received $214,234.31, up 24 percent. The city's transportation sales tax, which the state auditor noted had been inappropriately reallocated for law enforcement, has been returned to its original purpose.

Monett, with five sales taxes, received $4,833,249.83, a gain of more than $300,000, or 7 percent. Unexpectedly in May, the city began receiving small payments from its sunsetted sales tax paying for the Judicial Center. Those payments continued through December and added $503.51 to the total.

Mt. Vernon, which has three taxes, received $1,735,051.51, up 9 percent after a 4 percent drop in 2019. Mt. Vernon's use tax produced $251,772.64, up $140,000 or more than 125 percent above the previous year, reflecting stronger collections from online sales during the pandemic, but a striking contrast to the marginal increase in Aurora's use tax.

Pierce City, which collects five taxes, received $226,078.17, down $32,000, nearly the same amount as the gain seen in 2019, for an overall drop of 12 percent.

Purdy, with three taxes, collected $137,814.55, a drop of about $1,200, or 1 percent.

Seligman has four sales taxes and generated $268,852.30, up about $11,500 or 4 percent.

Verona, with four sales taxes, received $92,060.82, a drop of about $6,400 or 6 percent. The drop was in part predictable from the several-month closing of the town's restaurant and restarting of the city's transportation tax, which was allowed to lapse in 2019.

Washburn, with three taxes, received $67,063.32, an increase of 13 percent over 2019.

Wheaton, with two taxes, produced $96,524.61, a gain of 36 percent. Wheaton's inexplicable inconsistency between its 1 percent and .5 percent taxes continued in 2020, as the 1 percent tax generated 2.67 percent more than the .5 percent tax.

Lawrence County, which has three .5 percent sales taxes, received $5,606,436.37, a gain of 10 percent for the year, each bringing in more than $1.7 million. The county's use tax produced $817,636.56, up by more than $340,000 or 71 percent from 2019, thanks to online shopping during the pandemic.

Barry County, which levies three taxes, took in $5,278,066.51, up 9 percent. The county's additional .125 percent sales tax for its general fund gave the county commission $2,932,109.23 for paying general expenses, up by more than $260,000.

Barry County 911, supported by a 3/8 percent sales tax, garnered $1,759,185.12, up 9 percent from 2019.

Lawrence County 911, supported by its .5 percent sales tax, received $1,814,320.39, more than 14 times the amount collected in the last two months of 2019 as the tax initially began.

The Barry-Lawrence Ambulance District had its first full year of collections from its .5 percent sales tax, taking in $1,050,399.58.

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