Hurricane Katrina buoyed Pike County’s sales tax revenues, but online sales could have more of a negative effect on future earnings than even the Great Recession, 14 years worth of tax revenue data show.

From fiscal years 2003-04 to 2017-18, McComb’s sales tax revenues have risen 22%, Magnolia’s has gone up 75% and Summit’s has risen 74%.

Overall taxes generated across all sectors of industry have risen 34% countywide in the same time period.

And while the increase in tax revenues looks nice, that figure may be misleading since it is heavily weighted by the years leading up to the Great Recession and influenced by other factors, including a surge of money and people that poured into the area in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Even with increased sales tax revenues, it would be hard to argue that Pike County has completely recovered from the recession.

In McComb, sales tax revenues hit their high over that 14-year period in fiscal year 2016-17, when the city took in $5,851,711.

But since then and over the past three years McComb has seen a decline.

In fiscal year 2017-18, the city realized $5,726,081 in sales tax revenues, a modest 2% decline. That downward trend continued in fiscal year 2018-19, when McComb took in $5,696,024. That figure represents a decrease of about $30,000, or roughly the same amount as two full days of sales taxes generated across the city during that fiscal year.

Fiscal year 2019-20 is trending downward from the figures of the previous year as well. Between January and June of 2018 — half of a fiscal year — McComb took in $2,945,022 in tax revenues. Over the same six-month period in 2019, McComb received $2,938,649, which represents a relative decrease of about $6,000, or a half a day’s worth of sales taxes.

More important than the relative decrease, however, is that the figure over the first six months of 2019 shows that McComb is on track to take in fewer sales tax revenues in 2019, solidifying a third straight year with declining earnings.

It’s difficult to pinpoint a cause, including the influence of online retailers’ competitiveness with brick-and-mortar stores. Although Mississippi has a relatively new online sales tax, it’s technically a use tax, which is levied on goods purchased out of state or over the internet, and municipalities don’t get a share of that revenue like they do with sales taxes.

And brick-and-mortar businesses have seen a tough time, even national chains such as JC Penney, Sears and Payless ShoeSource, all of which have gone from retail juggernauts to shuttering stores on a large scale nationwide, including in McComb.

Each time a business is lost, so is sales tax revenue.

Magnolia has realized an increase of $213,669 (75%) in sales tax revenue between 2004 and 2018, with its numbers having grown each year since 2014. The city saw its largest sales tax revenues in fiscal year 2017-18, when it took in $497,518.

Summit has seen a 74% increase in realized sales tax revenues over the same period. Between 2017 and 2018, Summit saw an increase of about $14,000.

Pike County saw huge gains in revenue after Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005.

In that time period, Pike County saw an increase of $6,192,519 in tax revenues generated across all sectors of the economy, a change of 18%.

Pike County also recorded its highest figure in terms of sales over the period of Hurricane Katrina, with gross sales increasing by $89,050,624 (16%) that year.

McComb also received an $887,449 (19%) increase in sales tax revenue in the year after the storm.

While the county overall is performing well in terms of realized sales tax revenue, McComb Mayor Quordiniah Lockley said the challenge will be in how to best support local businesses.

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