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Sales tax numbers steady

Preliminary figures for the city of Greenville's sales tax collections for fiscal year 2002 are in, and while the numbers aren't where city officials would like them to be, the news isn't all-bad.

Based on sales tax collection numbers received through September the city of Greenville collected $3,351,757 in sales tax revenue from the state in fiscal year 2002 compared with $3,420,770 in fiscal 2001. While the numbers show a nearly two percent drop from the prior year, Greenville City Clerk Linda Vandenbosch says all may not be what it seems.

"We have what we consider the top 25 sales tax generators," she said. "When I looked at the report that came in from the (Alabama) state department nine of the top 25 was not included in that figure."

Vandenbosch said the sales tax revenues from the other nine businesses would amount to nearly $60,000, which would put total tax collections close to last year's.

"Normally the tax is due (the city) on the 20th of the next month and the state sends us payments," she said. "It's not that those businesses didn't pay their taxes, it's just that the state is trying to close out their fiscal year too and those nine just didn't get posted into those figures."

Also not included in the totals received by the city are September's actual sales tax collections, which should come in next month. The tax payments are delayed being sent to municipalities due to the time it takes the state to receive and post the payments.

While the city isn't expected to show large increases in sales tax revenue over last year, Greenville is holding its own considering a national recession, which some say were compounded by the terrorist attacks last year.

"We're holding our own, but we're not making the gains we would like to see to meet the climbing costs of operation," said Vandenbosch.

Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon agrees.

"The sales tax revenue has not grown like it has in the mid 90's," he said. "The economy is not like it was in the 90's and because of that we've done everything we can to tighten our belts. We have less people working for the city of Greenville than we did two years ago. Your sales tax needs to grow about five percent each year to keep up with the cost of things. If you're not your backing up."