Parish tax revenues up for 10th month
St. Mary Parish’s 4 percent parish sales tax collections in January were 21.8 percent more than January 2013, boding well for an outlook of another year of double-digit growth in the parish, according to the monthly analysis released by the parish Sales and Tax Department.
January’s total of $4.73 million collected from December’s taxable activity compares to $3.88 million from last year’s first month collections.
The increased collections indicated that the economy of the parish will have similar growth, or better, when compared to last year’s 10.9 percent growth, department director Jeffery LaGrange said.
“I budgeted for a 7.5 percent increase in parish sales and use tax collections for this year, which I think is a conservative estimate,” LaGrange said. “We have the potential to exceed 11 percent in growth.” That compares to the 3 percent growth the parish budgeted last year.
The first month of the year is not always an indication of increases or decreases that will occur over the course of the year. Last year the January tax collections were down 10 percent; parish taxes went down two of the first three months of the year. By the end of the first quarter, tax collections were down by 3 percent but the year ended with the local economy and tax collections shooting upward.
Last month’s increase is the 10th consecutive month of sales and use tax increases when compared to the same month the year before. Beginning in April 2012, the tax collected has increased 6 percent or more every month except October when there was a 4.3 percent increase.
There were four collections by audit examination in January that collected $199,713. Last year there were only three months where audit collections exceeded $74,000, including a record $1.79 million in July.
The January collections were fueled by a combination of factors that occur every January, LaGrange said. Those tax remittances include payments made by companies that file end-of-the-quarter or end-of-the-year remittances. There are also entities that for one reason or the other need to make remittances to close their books for the year.
Another source of tax revenue in the January collections is the strength of consumer purchases during the Christmas holiday season. Those purchases have appeared to remain flat the past five years, with 2013 December’s tax collection increasing less than $3,200 in department stores over the previous year.
LaGrange said that there were many positives and strengths looking back over last year’s growth that he thinks will continue through this year.
“The oilfields are blowing and going,” he said. “There are companies who cannot find enough skilled employees.”
After taking a dive in 2009, the industrial group, oil and gas group and automobile industry have been trending upward the past four years. Grocery stores and fast food chains and restaurants have had varying levels of increase the past two years. While tax collections from building materials went down in 2012, they rebounded last year. Convenience store tax collections increased after three years of flat collections.
There was only one class of activity that did not give LaGrange reason to be happy — department stores. He would not call the situation troubling but said the class showed “an unexpected flatness” as the collections remained about what they were in 2012. Those department store collections are the only class that have not yet returned to the levels existing before the 2009 drop in LaGrange’s chart.
There was $391,032 collected parish wide for occupational license fees. Morgan City led the way with $175,022 collected followed by the parish with nearly $126,000. Patterson collected $34,123, Franklin $22,422, Berwick $20,494 and Baldwin with $12,972.
Morgan City collected $121,813 in January from its 0.3 percent sales tax dedicated to road improvements.
The 4 percent hotel tax for January generated $48,874 in collections. That was an 11.3 percent decrease from the January 2013 collections. The hotel tax, like the other taxes, is based on activities occurring in December.