Sales tax revenue on the upswing

Published 5:51 pm Thursday, January 27, 2011

If sales tax numbers are any indication of how the economy is doing, things were slightly on the upswing in 2010.

An analysis of total sales tax collected in Chilton County’s four municipalities shows that most cities had a better year in 2010 than 2009.

Two cities, Thorsby and Maplesville, actually posted gains in sales tax, while Clanton’s drop wasn’t as severe as it was two years ago.

For example, Maplesville experienced a sharp decrease in sales tax from 2008 to 2009, dropping 8 percent from $395,000 to $363,300.

However, the town rebounded in 2010, gaining 4 percent of that back to take in a total of $378,000.

Maplesville Mayor Aubrey Latham said rising fuel prices may be keeping people close to home.

“My thoughts are that [a rise in sales tax revenue] may be from gas costs,” said Latham. “People are buying closer to home. It’s a lot closer than driving 20 miles one way to get some small stuff.”

Thorsby’s figures mirror that of Maplesville — the town experienced a steep decline two years ago but came back strong in 2010.

Thorsby collected $211,455 in sales tax revenue last year, up 13 percent from 2009’s total of $185,532.

That was a marked improvement from 2008, when sales tax dropped 16 percent from a high of $221,800.

Chilton County’s two largest cities, Clanton and Jemison, experienced drops in sales tax in 2010.

However, the decrease appeared to have leveled off some for Clanton, which has seen sales tax revenue drop from $6 million in 2008 to $5.7 million in 2009 and $5.5 million in 2010.

In other good news, Clanton Mayor Billy Joe Driver said many merchants around town told him 2010 was one of the better years they have had recently.

“Christmas looked a little bit on the better side for most; it was close or a tad better than last year,” said Driver.

Fast-growing Jemison seemed immune from the recession — at least its effect on sales tax — in 2008 and 2009.

They city actually gained money while others were losing it. Jemison brought in $776,900 in 2008 and $815,900 in 2009.

Jemison Mayor Eddie Reed agreed with Latham that rising prices were keeping people close to home to do their shopping.

“People were not traveling outside of Jemison to shop,” Reed said. “The economy was down and gas prices were up, and so the local businesses were patronized.”

But what was happening on a national scale eventually caught up with the city, which saw revenue sales tax drop 10.6 percent to $729,200 last year.

Still, both mayors say their towns have more businesses now than ever and that the future looks bright.

“We hope to try to improve, and we think we are,” Reed said. “We are still working on businesses to come into Jemison.”

Assistant Managing Editor Stephen Dawkins and Staff Writer Theadoris M. Morris contributed to this report.