The first three quarters of revenue from Webster Parish sales tax has been lower than previous years and the decline could hurt the economy, infrastructure and education system in Webster Parish, according to parish officials.

According to data from the Webster Parish Sales Tax office, $2,524,451 more was collected in the first three quarters of 2015 compared to the first three quarters of 2016.

“The fourth quarter totals are not necessarily higher due to the holiday shopping season. Actually, sales tax collected by businesses in December is remitted to us in January. Often, there is no pattern to sales tax collections,” explained Cyndy Herrington, administrator for the sales tax office. “We may collect more sales tax during one month due to increased construction or oil field work, but the next year it may be decreased due to less construction or oil field work.”

Herrington is doubtful there will be a large enough increase in the last quarter to offset the loss of the first three quarters.

The tax office is responsible for collecting sales and use tax, hotel occupancy tax and occupational license tax for the parish.

Thirteen different municipalities in the parish depend on the office to collect funds, which support things such as water, sewer, public works, streets, salaries, garbage services and fire/police protection. Taxes help supplement school personnel salaries, purchase materials, and maintain schools and facilities.

“When our sales tax revenue is down it creates issues for each of the municipalities in different ways,” Herrington said. “If revenue is down, the municipalities have to make cuts somewhere. The infrastructure of the parish is affected. Our schools are definitely affected with reduced sales tax revenue, as well as, our fire and police protection.”

Governing bodies such as the Webster Parish Police Jury and Webster Parish School Board must adjust their budgets when revenue from sales tax declines.

Currently, Webster Parish tax is 3 percent throughout the parish. Two percent goes to the Webster Parish School Board. A half percent is for the Webster Parish Police Jury. The remaining half percent funds law enforcement.

Several districts and municipalities levy additional taxes to fund initiatives passed by voters including, school transportation and technology, teacher salary supplements and more.

Sales Tax Revenue by quarter and year:

2014
First: $7,222,558
Second: $7,834,079
Third: $7,757,188
Fourth: $7,398,696
Total: $30,212,523

2015
First: $8,311,574
Second: $7,286,381
Third: $7,435,526
Fourth: $7,054,199
Total: $30,087,681

2016
First: $6,823,873
Second: $7,060,473
Third: $6,624,684