By Corey Poole
Director of Finance Lee Waskom was positively giddy with some good news for Natchitoches Parish School Board members regarding an increase in sales tax numbers from the Natchitoches Tax Commission’s report.
The 7.7% increase from where things were last year could be due to stimulus money that came out in March. This is a trend, and while Waskom said it’s not official, he expects next month’s report from the Tax Commission to be exceptionally good.
For the School District, this means sales tax checks in July will be substantially higher.
The NPJ decided to look into this increase a bit further. According to Tax Commission Jerry McWherter all sales tax numbers are up.
While McWherter said he can’t put a handle on exactly what the increase is from, he did state that motor vehicle sales were up 30% for March versus last March. That’s a $154,000 increase in a quarter month. McWherter said he’d expect this to be up normally, but a normal monthly increase would be about 11%.
Motor Vehicle sales in March of 2020 were at $271,863. March of 2021 saw a total of $354,670. McWherter said this increase blew him out of the water.
But it’s pretty good numbers everywhere. The City is up 6.78% over the same time last year, which amounts to roughly $636,000.
People may think that Covid put things in the tank, but not necessarily. While some businesses may be having financial issues and some may be trying their best to keep their doors open, grocery stores are still doing really well and a relaxation on mandates has been good for local restaurants.
Tourism also seems to be picking back up again. Tourist Office Executive Director Arlene Gould announced at an unrelated meeting on May 20 that her office logged over 700 visitors from 41 states in the month of April. This weekend, beginning on May 21, there’s also a 45 team tournament at Parc Natchitoches.
McWherter said that this combined with tournaments at Parc Natchitoches picking back up are all good signs that the economy is staying on the rails.
On another note, McWherter added that because of the pandemic tax payers are doing more business online. The Tax Commission Office was able to start taxing from out of state vendors on internet sales in July 2020. The $436,000 that’s been collected so far for 2021 is holding up the sales tax numbers.
Out of state vendors include Amazon, Walmart, Wayfair, TJ Maxx and JC Penny just to name a few. According to McWherter, these collections are giving Natchitoches a little more of a foundation financially that it’s never received before.
So what does all this mean? Overall, the outlook for sales tax collections looks positive.
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