Stronger sales at the Mullins Crossing retail outlets have boosted Columbia County's special purpose local option sales tax revenues to record-breaking heights, the county's finance director says.
Leanne DeLoach, the county's financial services director, said her office recently received the county's largest monthly sales tax check ever from the state of Georgia, eclipsing the previous record set in August 2005.
In March, Columbia County's one-cent, voter-approved sales tax generated $1.37 million to be applied to the county's five-year capital improvement plan, which includes road, infrastructure and recreational facility upgrades, DeLoach said.
The March total amounts to a 10.7 percent increase compared to revenues collected in February and a 19 percent increase compared to figures from March 2005, she said.
The $1.37 million bests the average amount collected per month for the previous 12 months by 13.2 percent and the previous top month on record, August 2005, by about $110,000, or 8.7 percent, she said.
"I anticipated when Target and Kohl's opened we would see a big jump (in sales tax revenue) and I think we are seeing that now,'' she said.
The finance director said the county saw a similar tax revenue spike when the Evans Wal-Mart opened in 2002.
Though not permitted to speak about specific sales figures, Target store team leader Anthony Childress said his store's sales, like the county's sales tax revenues, have increased with each month since opening in September.
"I can only say that it was directly proportional. We have done very well," he said.
Sales at Target picked up once additional outlets moved into the Mullins Crossing shopping center and the perception of it still being under construction waned, Childress said.
"When you are hidden behind buildings that aren't (completely) built, there's a perception," he said. "A lot of people from a safety standpoint, don't want to shop where there is construction going on, especially with small children."
While much of the center was under construction, shoppers needed a specific reason to shop there, Childress said, but as stores fill empty locations, and with the future additions of Academy Sports & Outdoors Ltd. and Lowe's nearby, Evans will become a one-stop shopping draw.
DeLoach said additional revenue from newly opened stores and those yet to open at Mullins Crossing might fuel larger returns.
Residents spending their money in the county instead of elsewhere has a positive impact, DeLoach said.
"It means we will be able to get to these (capital improvement) projects a lot quicker than we originally hoped to, which is a good thing for the citizens," she said.
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