Revenue Rising: Pike County sales tax revenue sees monthly increases since 2015

Published 3:00 am Saturday, June 4, 2016

Pike County and the City of Troy have both reported increases in sales tax revenue through the first half of the fiscal year, which many officials have said provides a boost to schools and other government services.

Alton Starling, Troy City Clerk, said that the city has collected $3.175 million through March, a $265,000 increase over what the city had last year.

“Every month this year has been better than last year,” he said. “It shows an upward trend in the economy.”

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The increase also has the city 3.82 percent ahead of what they budgeted.

Harry Sanders, Pike County administrator, said the county’s sales tax revenue has also improved from last year.

“As of the end of April,” he said, “we’re up 4.14 percent from the same time last year.”

Sanders said the county has collected approximately $4.635 million this fiscal year compared to $4.451 last year, an increase of $184,000.

He explained what that increase means for the county economy.

“The greatest benefactor is the county schools,” he said. “It’s a benefit to everyone, even those who don’t have children in the schools.”

Troy City Schools Superintendent Lee Hicks explained how sales tax revenue impacts the city schools.

“That’s how we provide services that aren’t funded by the board of education,” he said. “It also helps us maintain top-notch facilities and stay at the forefront of getting technology into our classrooms.”

For instance, the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters, or HIPPY, program was established for Troy City schools, but no longer receives that funding. The Troy City school system now uses sales tax revenue to continue the program, which helps preschool and kindergarten students that are at risk of falling behind.

Hicks said sales tax revenue also helps the schools pay for things like travel for athletic teams and bands, and other extracurricular and academic programs.

As for what caused the increase in revenue, Marsha Gaylard, president of the Pike County Center for Economic Development, gave some possibilities.

“Troy University students are more people to spend locally,” she said. “That’s a large number when you can add 7,000 or 8,000 students to the economy.”

She said students are also a big factor in being able to recruit retailers.

“College students come in with disposable income that people may not think about,” she said. “A lot of them have their mom and dad’s credit card or a bank account they can access just like other Pike County residents.”

Gaylard also credited U.S. Highway 231 as a source of revenue.

“We’re very fortunate to have U.S. Highway 231,” she said. “It brings a lot of tourists through our area.”

Troy Chamber of Commerce President Kathy Sauer agreed that Troy University brings a boost to sales tax, and can even help buoy revenue in the summer.

“Students come to IMPACT for orientation and they stay at local hotels, eat at local restaurants, and shop local,” she said.

There has been an increase recently in Troy University enrollment, according to figures provided by the Office of Institutional Research at Troy.

The figures show that 7,206 students were enrolled in the fall semester of 2015, whereas only 6,753 were enrolled at the same time the prior year. That’s an increase of 6.7 percent.

The statistics also show better retention of students, as enrollment only dropped 7.9 percent from the Fall 2015 to Spring 2016. Enrollment numbers dropped 9.2 percent from fall to spring last year.

Whatever the cause for the uptick in sales tax revenue, Sauer said the Troy Chamber of Commerce encourages Troy residents to continue to shop locally to support the community.

“People want better streets, better schools, they want potholes fixed,” she said. “That is all supported by the sales tax revenue that comes from shopping local.”