BELLE FOURCHE –– April sales tax numbers jumped in Belle Fourche, up 78.3% over 2019.
“I didn’t in a million years expect to see numbers like that,” Breanna Schaefer, the city’s finance officer told the Pioneer Wednesday.
Even amid pandemic conditions, the city’s April sales tax revenue brought in $268,320.77. That represents an increase of $117,837.43 over April 2019’s $150,483.34 worth of revenue.
“One thing to bear in mind is we don’t get immediate returns (from the state),” Schaefer said. “So, April’s numbers I think is that last week of sales tax for March and then three weeks of sales tax in April. So, what you’re seeing is the height of the pandemic when everybody was supposed to be forced home.”
Schaefer said that because the state doesn’t delineate exactly what tax revenue is from what type of purchases, she said it’s difficult to nail down exactly why the numbers have increased so noticeably.
“So, I have no way of knowing, ‘Were people panic-buying at the grocery stores?’” she said. “I personally feel like that’s what happened, but I don’t have any evidence to support that. So, I think people … they loaded down their freezers, they did whatever they needed to because we didn’t know how long this was going to last.”
“A lot of people really pulled to support the local businesses,” she said. “So, I think people were more cognizant to grab a burger from Graps (Burgers & Brews), or something of that nature, as opposed to going to Applebees in Spearfish.”’
An increase in online shopping due to boredom is another theory Schaefer has related to the increase.
The increases noticed in Belle Fourche suggest a stark difference when compared to state tax revenue figures. In April, according to the state Department of Revenue, while sales and use tax is up 4.5%, taxes collected for tobacco; lottery; licensing, permitting, and fees; and more are down $30,232,080, or 19.2%, compared to April 2019.
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