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In spite of COVID-19, city sales tax collections nearly meet budget

Despite restrictions enacted because of the COVID-19 virus, the city of Vicksburg came close to meeting sales tax revenue projections for 2020.

According to information from the city’s accounting department, the total amount of sales tax collected for the 2020 fiscal year that ended in October totaled $7,796,883 — $3,117 less than the projected revenue of $7.8 million.

Collections for four of the last five months of the fiscal year exceeded fiscal 2019 collections with July the only month where collections fell below 2019 with $642,554, or $15,024 less than the $657,578.20 collected.

The city’s 2 percent tax on food and beverage sales and hotel room rentals exceeded its projection by $33,769. Revenue for the 2 percent tax, which is dedicated to paying off the Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi sports complex, was projected at $2.15 million. The final total was $2.183 million.

“Credit goes to not only the city’s employees, but the community rallied together and we did what it took to stay at home, shop at home and cut the cost of government,” Mayor George Flaggs said. “It (shopping local) works.”

If people continue shopping at home first and eating at local restaurants for the next 100 days of fiscal 2021, Flaggs said, “I think we’ll be on our way to a positive of revenue (for 2021).

“The next 10 days are so important,” he said. “That is because we’re getting to the end of the calendar year and the first of the calendar year — January is always a slow retail month. If we continue doing what we’re doing I am absolutely confident we are going to have a great 2021.”

Vicksburg’s sales tax collections were down early in fiscal 2020 and for five months from January to May as concerns about COVID-19 increased.

Many stores, with the exception of grocery and hardware stores, pharmacies and convenience stores, closed in April. Restaurants either closed or were open only for carryout orders due to restrictions set out in the emergency order approved by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

Nearly every business sector was reopened by mid-May, with casinos in the state reopening just before Memorial Day.

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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