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Positive numbers released from recent sales tax and gaming activity

It would appear the push and encouragement local leaders made for residents to shop local during the later parts of the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders paid off.

Monday, city officials learned the city’s sales tax reimbursement for May was $12,000 more than May 2019. And in regards to the city’s portion of tax revenue tied to gaming in Vicksburg, it was up more than 30 percent over June 2019.

The state Department of Revenue reimburses Vicksburg 18 percent of the sale tax collected inside the city. Sales tax revenues run two months behind.

According to information from the city’s accounting department, the May sales tax reimbursement received July 15 was $701,860, about $12,587 more than the $689,273 collected in May 2019.

“I’ll take it,” city accounting director Doug Whittington said.

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said the increase shows the benefit of shopping locally.

“People have been shopping at home; that’s what I’ve been saying all along — you shop at home, it shows up,” Flaggs said. “That’s what keeps the taxes down. So to that extent, I encourage them to continue to keep shopping at home, it’s working.”

The increased sales tax reimbursement, however, was not enough to significantly boost the city’s sales tax revenue. Despite the increase, the year to date total sales tax collections of $5.14 million remained 2.79 percent below the projected revenue of $8.05 million, records show.

The city’s gaming tax revenue comes from two taxes on casinos and a device tax on equipment.

June gaming tax revenues totaled $511,223, $138,778 more than the $372,445 collected in June 2019, an increase of 37.26 percent. Whittington said, however, the total includes $99,900 in device tax revenue that was received late in 2019.

But even with the $99,900 subtracted from the June total, he said, the combined revenue from the other two taxes exceeded the June 2019 total by $38,878.

And like the sales tax figures, the increased June revenue has not boosted the revenue total even with projections.

Year to date figures show total revenue collections for fiscal 2020 at over June 2019 collections, but the year to date gaming revenue collections total $3.97 million or 10.42 percent less than projected revenue of $5.26 million.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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