Sales taxes 'leveling out,' parish president says

Staff reports

Iberville's 2011 parishwide sales tax collections continue to lag those of the first two months of 2010, primarily because Shintech's $1.9 billion plant construction program is winding down, parish officials said.

Parishwide collections in February showed a $500,000 improvement over those of February 2010, but that was not enough to offset a $1.1 million drop in January's take compared to the previous year, according to reports from the Sales Tax Department.

“This year should be a telltale sign with big construction,” Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso Jr. said. “This should be a leveling out period in 2011.”

Large construction projects pushed sales taxes to record high levels in each of the previous five years.

Sales Tax Director David Hall said last January's numbers were pushed even higher with the settlement of two substantial audits and by a spike in use tax collected on construction projects.

Parishwide tax collections dropped from $5.6 million in January 2010 to $4.5 million in January 2011.

February's parishwide total was $3.8 million, compared to $3.3 million in the previous February. Hall linked the increase to construction at SNF-Flopam and to retail sales picking up after a post-Christmas lull.

For the year to date, the 2011 total is $8.32 million, compared to $8.93 million, down by more than $606,000.

Last month, the Iberville Parish Council and the parish's six municipalities took in more than $2 million from the two and two-thirds cents in sales taxes they share, an increase of $268,171 over February 2010.

The Iberville Parish School Board, which levies two cents in sales taxes, received $1.5 million, compared to $1.3 million, an increase of $200,378.

The one-third cent solid waste tax, which pays for residential garbage collections, produced $256,901, in increase of $33,462.

The two percent tax on hotel and motel room rentals that supports tourist promotions yielded $2,386, a decrease of $375 compared to February 2010.

The City of St. Gabriel, which levies a separate one-cent tax within its corporate limits, received $76,355 last month, down by $73,880 from its February 2010 total.

For the year to date, St. Gabriel's tax has yielded $212,949, a decrease of $72,481.