Covering Tallapoosa County: Alex City 2008 tax revenues up

ALEXANDER CITY, AL., -- The stock market continues to hemorrhage and the latest media reports indicate the unemployment rate is soaring, but despite the gloom and doom splashed across national headlines there is was a bright spot in the Alexander City economy in 2008.

Tax revenues for the city increased nearly 4 percent in 2008, going from $7,475,029 in fiscal year 2007 to $7,773,404 in fiscal year 2008.

"It looked like a lot of businesses are up," said Ward Sellers, with the city's business license and tax department.

Sellers attributes the increased revenues to the high gas prices over the summer, forcing more people to shop locally.

"We had Home Depot open. That helped," said Sellers. "I think people shopped at home more."

However, Sellers cautions the report may not reflect the depth of impact the recession has had on the local economy.

The 2008 fiscal year ended Sept. 31, meaning numbers from recent months, October through December, which were pounded by the dwindling economy, are not included in the report.

But the most recent numbers for the 2009 fiscal year are slightly above numbers reported for the same period last year. Sales tax returns for fiscal year 2009 are up by .23 percent for the first three months of the fiscal year.

"Were holding our own right now," said Sellers. "We hope to hold our own all year."

The report surprised local business owners who also speculated about the reason for the sales tax revenue increase.

"That is interesting," Daniel Champion, owner of Carlisle Drug Company, said. "That may be reflective of people shopping in town during the holidays."

Vicki Ballard, owner of The Spectacle Shoppe, said she began to see slower sales in July and that the slump continued through October and that the numbers are particularly surprising to her.

"I was not near as busy in 2008 as I was in 2007," Ballard said. "I don't think I did as much business this year."