MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

January 29, 2013

Muskogee sales tax collections up

By D.E. Smoot
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Muskogee realized a slight increase in its share of collections of taxes on sales reported during the first half of the holiday shopping season compared with figures released a year ago.

Muskogee’s share of tax revenue from actual sales reported Nov. 16-30 and estimated sales during the first two weeks of December totaled nearly $2.08 million. That is up 1.99 percent, or $440,673, from the more than $2.03 million collected for the same period in 2011.

Use tax collections of $114,335 for the same reporting period were down 4.11 percent, or $4,894, from the $119,229 reported a year ago. Totals for sales and use tax collections combined show a year-to-year increase of $35,779, or 1.66 percent.

The Oklahoma Tax Commission’s January report, which was published then pulled for revisions Thursday, was met with a measured response from those who had hoped for increased sales during the holiday shopping season.

The Commission’s December report, which reflected actual and estimated sales from Oct. 16 through Nov. 15, revealed a more than 5 percent increase over 2011 receipts for the same period. City Manager Greg Buckley said he hoped that trend would continue.

“It would have been nice to see a little bigger trend upward in light of the national discussion about sales being up,” Buckley said. “We are creeping up — the impact of being positive is a good thing — but we’re still not as good as we were in 2008,” when collections for the same period totaled more than $2.2 million.

While some have speculated consumers may have been exercising caution during the first half of the holiday season because of uncertainties surrounding the fiscal cliff calamity in Washington, Buckley said slow sales tax collections could be associated more with the migration of local shoppers to Broken Arrow and Tulsa.

Some consumers with whom Buckley has visited say they would shop locally if their favorite retailers had a local presence. Buckley said if more of those consumers shopped locally, that might do more to attract some of those retailers to set up shop in Muskogee.

“The impact of shopping locally is beyond just trying to attract new businesses,” Buckley said. “With every improvement we see in sales tax collections, that puts more money into the bucket that can be used for streets, utilities and infrastructure needed to support those new businesses.”

Buckley said he wants to see the next sales tax collection report before he passes judgment on the success of local holiday sales. That report, which will include actual sales from Dec. 16-31 and estimated sales for the first two weeks of January, is due to be released toward the end of February.

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot@muskogeephoenix.com.