Sales tax collections took a hit last month, but payments disbursed in April rebounded for the city of Joplin, as well as for Jasper and Newton counties.

Retailers last month said January’s miserable winter storms translated into misery at the cash register, sending sales and the sales tax revenue plummeting. They projected then that there would a warmer feeling this month when tax checks were distributed by the state because sales had picked up as the weather improved in February.

It takes 60 to 90 days for the taxes collected at retail stores to be submitted and processed by the Missouri Department of Revenue, and paid out to cities, counties and other local taxing entities.

Joplin’s sales tax payment in March was down 21 percent from the March payment a year earlier: $930,975 compared with $1,184,561.

That translated to a slide of nearly 7 percent for Joplin’s 1-cent sales tax in the first five months of the city’s fiscal year, from $4,966,110 through March 2009 to $4,635,347 last month.

That 1-cent tax supports the city’s general fund.

This month, though, Joplin had its best April payment ever, with $1,097,057 received. That is nearly $60,000 more than last April’s payment of $1,038,930, according to figures supplied by the city’s finance department. That represents an increase of 5.6 percent.

“It’s good that it’s not down like it was,” said Leslie Jones, the city finance director. “We’re still down for the year, 4.5 percent, but we’re not down as much as we were.”

The 1-cent sales tax collections stand at $5,732,404, compared with $6,005,040 at this time last year, and the city is at its midpoint in the fiscal year, which began Nov. 1.

The city had budgeted collections of $12,063,500 for the entire fiscal year, which ends Oct. 31.

Jones, after watching the city’s payment drop more than 12 percent in December, and then rise to the plus column by 1.1 percent and 2.05 percent in January and February, doesn’t make predictions even though retailers last month reported good sales numbers after January’s snow melted.

“Basically, we just continue to monitor this from month to month,” she said. “We can’t seem to get a trend.”

“Ours was a little better, too,” said Jasper County Auditor Richard Webster of the county’s April payment.

Jasper County received $521,545 this month, compared with $488,794 a year ago, an increase of $32,751, or 6.7 percent, Webster said.

The county tabulates its budget by the calendar year rather than a fiscal year.

“For the first four months of 2010, we’re still down $55,000 compared to last year for the first four months; that’s 2.8 percent,” Webster said. “We took the hit in March,” when the tax payment was $100,000 less than it was a year earlier.

Newton County also saw a healthier tax check this month, said Presiding Commissioner Jerry Carter.

The county received $473,539 in April, compared with $460,573 in April 2009, an increase of 2.8 percent.

“So it’s nearly $13,000 more, and that’s good, but we’re still down considerably,” Carter said.

Newton County’s receipts so far this calendar year are $119,424 below last year’s, for a drop of 6.5 percent, the commissioner said.

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