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Tax revenue increases slightly, businesses still hurting

Greenville sales tax revenue for the month of May grew a “sliver of a percent”, said city clerk Sue Arnold.

The city is up almost $2000 compared to 2009 figures, which amounts to less than one percent total growth. Tax revenue increased from $477,652.07 in May of 2009 to $479,402.30 for May of this year.

Mayor Dexter McLendon said things are slowly getting better, despite the Gulf oil spill.

“I don’t think there is any doubt that the oil spill is making a difference, but we do see a turn compared to last year,” McLendon said. “Its getting better, and it will continue to get better once the economy starts turning around more.”

While city officials see this as sign of an economy that is slowly gaining strength, interstate restaurants such as Bates House of Turkey say they are seeing less and less tourists.

“The Fourth of July wasn’t even like a holiday,” said manager Michelle Sloane. “It wasn’t near the traffic we are used to.”

Sloane said she has seen the biggest decrease in regular customers who make frequent Gulf getaways.

“A lot of our customers have beach houses down there and are used to going every other weekend or so,” Sloane said. “They might be going once a month compared to every weekend or so.”

McLendon said all we can do is try to keep generating jobs.

“When unemployment goes down, sales tax goes up,” McLendon said.

Arnold said she hopes the upcoming sporting tournaments will help offset the decrease in southbound traffic. The 2010 Dixie Youth Majors tournament will be held in Greenville July 23-29.

“We expect to see an increase in lodging and gasoline spending for June and July,” Arnold said. “These families won’t just be traveling through but will be staying for a couple of days.”

As for Sloane and Bates House of Turkey, there is nothing left to do but wait.

“We hope it picks up, but there are no signs yet,” Sloane said.