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Sales tax revenue provides good news for Enterprise | News | dothaneagle.com 6/22/20, 6:20 PM
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BY KEN ROGERS firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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
“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
“It put a lot of apprehension to bed,” Vickers said. “We were very
worried about it. Thanks to the people of Enterprise for shopping
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
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
“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
“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
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.
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“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.”
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