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Sales tax revenues slightly down

Despite national reports of a sagging retail economy, residents opened their wallets to local merchants during this year’s annual sales tax holiday.

The most recent collection data, which is for sales made in August and remitted to local governments in September, show this year’s annual sales tax holiday revenues came in just under last year’s total.

Assistant county administrator Pam Steele said purchases made in the county’s jurisdiction generated $574,588 in revenue — a difference of only $15,428 from 2008.

Andalusia city clerk John Thompson said August sales tax collections were down 3 percent compared to the same month one year ago.

“While we certainly pay very close attention to monthly sales tax collections, we don’t get too upset by small decreases or too excited by similar decreases,” said Mayor Earl Johnson. “What we do look for are trends. When we see a steady trend moving in a positive direction, especially in the current climate, we do find reason to get excited.

“It shows that our plans to develop Andalusia’s economy by investing are paying dividends,” he said. “Right now, at a time when construction and financial costs are at historic lows, we are planning another round of similar investment that I am sure will pay even greater dividends in the future.”

Public and private investment will stimulate the economy by encouraging existing businesses to expand inventories, hire new employees and expand facilities, he said.

“This puts more pressure on the economy by attracting new businesses to the area,” he said. “Both of these factors combine to attract customers which drive sales. The net result is a booming economy where consumers have more choices and greater competition for their dollars.”

While no official data was available, Johnson said sales tax revenue in the new fiscal year, which began in October, “looks good.”

“The city’s sales tax revenues held steady throughout the 2009 fiscal year, and it appears that fiscal 2010 is off to a good start, with a 8.7 percent increase for October 2009,” he said. “This indicates to me that our Covington County citizens are doing most of their shopping at home.”

County sales tax revenues for September 2009 were $573,745 — a decrease of $26,534 from 2008’s $600,279.