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Rugby sales tax revenues dip slightly for 2019

By Staff | Dec 27, 2019

The City of Rugby and the Rugby Job Development Authority released a report last week detailing a slight dip in sales tax receipts over 2019.

JDA Executive Director Liz Heisey told the Tribune by phone she was not surprised by the trend overall.

“We’re only down about 1.85 percent from last year,” Heisey noted.

Total sales tax receipts as of Dec. 21 for this year were $679,699.14, down from last year’s total of $692,508.30.

Per city ordinances, the JDA received 35 percent of the revenue, with the other 65 percent going to the city government for infrastructure.

Although Heisey said she did not speak for the Rugby Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, she told the Tribune she noticed a larger decline in tax receipts from the local lodging sector.

“Our tourism funds, the funds we get for promoting Rugby, that’s solely based on lodging tax and that lodging tax number is very concerning.”

Heisey said tax receipts for lodging were “$16,000 for 2019,” adding, “The lowest total was in 2008, and that was $14,000.”

Rugby Convention and Visitors’ Bureau Executive Director Cory Geiszler told the Tribune he was “not aware” of the recent sales tax figures for the lodging sector.

Geiszler said, “The CVB’s not getting any funding right now from the city until we can get some things figured out. I have not seen any (tax revenue) numbers for three or four months.”

Geiszler said he was unaware of any indicators of a downturn in Rugby’s hotels or restaurants.

“I haven’t had any conversations with any restaurants or hotels about any specifics as to what their business cycles are. Normally, when the city releases (figures), or we used to get our money monthly, we would know how those businesses were, but I guess I haven’t been aware of how busy or not busy they’ve been.”

Heisey said she thought the closure of Rugby’s Shopko “definitely” impacted sales tax revenues overall.

However, she added, “Getting the online sales tax really helped mitigate the impact. If we didn’t have that online sales tax, we would really be hurting. Home of Economy coming in should help really stabilize our sales tax, and sales tax is so important for infrastructure, economic development and other programs.”

Heisey also credited “a really great October” for softening the blow from Shopko’s closure.

“I think (October’s numbers were) because people were school shopping online, and that showed up in October,” Heisey noted.

“It will be interesting to see how January turns out from the online shopping for Christmas,” Heisey added. “Then, we’ll have Home of Economy coming this spring, so that will help.”

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