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Posted on: June 23, 2020

Sales tax revenue provides good news for Enterprise

Sales tax revenue provides good news for Enterprise | News | dothaneagle.com 6/22/20, 6:20 PM

https://www.dothaneagle.com/enterprise_ledger/news/sales-tax-revenu…ws-for-enterprise/article_ca13e430-59b0-5a2b-99db-1196612c6a15.html Page 1 of 5

https://www.dothaneagle.com/enterprise_ledger/news/sales-tax-revenue-provides-good-news-for-enterprise/article_ca13e430-59b0-

5a2b-99db-1196612c6a15.html

BY KEN ROGERS krogers@dothaneagle.com

Jun 19, 2020


City and county officials were braced for the worst when sales tax

numbers from May were released earlier this month.

There was a pleasant surprise. The good news is the bad news didn’t

crush Enterprise and Coffee County.

To be sure, a local economy that had been roaring for the first two and

a half months of 2020 took a hit, along with rest of the state and

nation, to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The second half of March

and all of April were spent in various modes of Gov. Kay Ivey’s

shutdown orders.

Since sales taxes numbers are released in arears — in other words

May’s numbers reflected the April sales tax collections — most

expected a bleak report.

While many cities saw significant declines, Enterprise actually saw a

small increase in sales tax collections in May — again, off April

numbers. The revenue was $1,883,853, slightly up over the

$1,870,601 collected in May of 2019.

In fact, the city has enjoyed an increase in every month of this fiscal

year 2019-20, which runs from last October through this September.

The total sales tax revenue year to date is up more than 5% — at

$15.4 million as opposed to $14.7 million collected over the same

time in FY 2018-29.

“It was somewhat amazing to us knowing a lot of the closings and

things that had happened,” Enterprise Mayor Bill Cooper said. “Then

looking around at some of the other cities, some of them were in

trouble. But here we are showing a gain.

“It goes to show that business as usual was going on. We appreciate

our people, our citizens, for continuing to support our businesses.

That’s why we are where we are today.”

Given the shuttering of many businesses in April, the numbers are

eye-opening, although Wiregrass Economic Development Corp.

Executive Director Jonathan Tullos used the phrase “cautious

optimism.”

“Dothan was down 17% on their May tax revenue,” Tullos said,

providing some context. “A lot of the other areas in the Wiregrass

were in the negative, as well. So to be flat and even slightly positive

is a big deal.”

Enterprise City Council President Perry Vickers said the report was a

“pleasant surprise.”

“It put a lot of apprehension to bed,” Vickers said. “We were very

worried about it. Thanks to the people of Enterprise for shopping

local.”

City Council member Turner Townsend noted the positive numbers in

his comments at last week’s meeting.

“We’d be remiss if we didn’t at least bring up some good news about

the city’s finances,” Townsend said. “It looks like our sales tax

collections are hitting our budgets, which is a blessing in this time of

economic uncertainty.”

Two other areas of revenue — the lodging tax and the gasoline tax —

were well below last year’s numbers. But again, travel in April was

off everywhere. There were very few reasons to travel, simply

because so few places were open if you did.

And it is the sales tax numbers that fund about 70% the City of

Enterprise’s budget.

“That’s what keeps the lights on,” Townsend said when asked the

significance of the sales tax revenue.

In Coffee County, Administrator Rod Morgan was encouraged by the

numbers.

“They weren’t down as much as I thought they’d be,” he said about

the May report. “They weren’t terrible. I think we all expected a

bloodbath and that didn’t happen. Hopefully, that will continue to be

the case.”

There are several factors that contributed to the overall sigh of relief

produced from the numbers.

“Some of that is buoyed by the fact that so many people stayed

home,” Tullos said. “We had a bunch of students who had to come

home. They may have been at Alabama or Auburn or even Troy.

They’ve been here.

“You’ve got people — either from necessity or choice or a little of

both — who weren’t able to travel for business or pleasure to take a

weekend trip to the beach or to go on a work trip. So they still ate,

whether they got takeout from a restaurant or they bought groceries.”

Morgan said the numbers indicated that a lot of people didn’t exactly

stay and home when the stay-at-home orders were issued.

Sales tax revenue provides good news for Enterprise | News | dothaneagle.com 6/22/20, 6:20 PM

https://www.dothaneagle.com/enterprise_ledger/news/sales-tax-revenu…s-for-enterprise/article_ca13e430-59b0-5a2b-99db-1196612c6a15.html Page 4 of 5

“I don’t know how much good it did to issue the stay at home order

when we closed businesses,” he said. “It looks like we just

reallocated that money amongst businesses that were open and

concentrated sales at Lowe’s, Walmart, Dollar General, Big Lots. I

don’t know that it really kept people at home.”

Tullos and Morgan both noted the impact of Fort Rucker for

softening the blow that was expected.

“It’s a real testament to Fort Rucker and the job market that

represents as an economic base,” Tullos said.

“We’ve always been a bit recession-proof down here because of the

base,” Morgan added. “Our largest economic engine didn’t see any

slowdown. Those guys were still getting paid. They were working

less, but they were getting paid.”

Another sector of the economy — building and construction — was

shockingly strong in Enterprise.

Staci Hayes, the city’s Interim Director of Engineering, said April and

May was a booming period.

“In the month of April we wrote 28 new house permits — just new

home construction, brand new houses being built,” Hayes said. “We

normally, on an average, write maybe four to six a month.”

She said the city also recently permitted two apartment complexes —

a 176-unit complex behind Clark Cinemas and a 96-unit complex on

the corner of Freedom Drive and Rucker Boulevard.

The new home permits continued in May, she said.

“I’d say between April and May we probably did 40 new house

permits,” Hayes said. “People ask me where this is coming from and I

have no idea. I’m not going to question it, though. We’re going to be

happy that we’re busy and blessed that we have jobs to come to.”

Townsend said the sales tax revenues weren’t as high as they could

have been based on pre-pandemic forecasts.

“If you look at where we were tracking, sales were down,” the

councilman said. “But collections were adequate for the city to

continue to make budget and not have to deficit spend for the year.

“Overall, that’s a huge win and hopefully we can keep that up.”

Sales tax revenue provides good news for Enterprise | News | dothaneagle.com 6/22/20, 6:20 PM

https://www.dothaneagle.com/enterprise_ledger/news/sales-tax-revenu…s-for-enterprise/article_ca13e430-59b0-5a2b-99db-1196612c6a15.html Page 5 of 5

KEN ROGERS

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