JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Sobering numbers released Friday by the Mississippi Department of Revenue show significant sales tax revenue drops in some Jackson metro cities for the month of April, showing the pandemic’s effect on the Magnolia State and less money for those leaders to provide city services.
Of seven metro area cities 3 On Your Side analyzed, five had dips in revenue compared with the same month last year -- Brandon, Flowood, Jackson, Madison and Ridgeland.
The Capital City saw the single biggest drop: $431,849, a 16.9 percent decrease over 2019.
Flowood had the second-highest decrease of $202,352, which represents a 18.7 percent decrease over last year, followed by Ridgeland ($117,363), Brandon ($40,314) and Madison ($3,440).
Two cities had increases -- Richland with $19,458 and Pearl with $21,960 -- which may seem surprising to some.
Jacob Manley, spokesperson for the Mississippi Department of Revenue, explains the discrepancy.
“Cities that receive a significant amount of city diversion from large retail centers that were closed during the month of April will be significantly impacted,” Manley said in an email. “Those cities whose businesses were not impacted, like grocery stores, hardware stores, home centers, etc., will fare better. That is why you see larger cities with a bigger percentage decrease and small cities seeing smaller percentage decreases and in some cases, increases. It all hinges on the mix of stores in their city and the percentage of their diversion that comes from the businesses that were closed due to the stay at home order.”
Vicksburg took a revenue hit, too: $25,398 fewer dollars came in last month versus April 2019.
“Municipalities fund their government off of basic sales tax revenue, not property taxes," Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs said, underscoring its importance.
Flaggs said they’ve seen a one-two punch in his city, both from the businesses that closed temporarily and the tourism they usually see.
“I got numbers yesterday saying we were 49 percent behind on hotel stays, and that’s gonna impact our sports complex," Flaggs said.
Earlier this month, Flaggs told reporters they projected a $2.8 million dollar revenue loss for the city, not counting the recent postponement of the Miss Mississippi Pageant.
If they don’t get help from lawmakers soon, Flaggs said, it’ll start to affect the safety and wellbeing of his residents.
“If we don’t get revenue from an increase or reimbursement of our sales tax decline in revenue, we’re gonna have to go to the millage, we’re gonna have to cut services, we’re gonna have to cut employees, we’re gonna have to furlough. We’re gonna have to do any number of things to make that difference," Flaggs said.
Flaggs hopes lawmakers will consider whether they should reimburse cities like his from the rainy day fund.