Does celebration provide sales tax sizzle or fizzle?

Bunita Rainke, left, of Southern Fun Carnival waits to hand a customer a freshly fried funnel cake while working at the Missouri American Water Carnival Land's Madison Street food stand during Jefferson City's Salute to America on Wednesday evening, July 3, 2013.

Bunita Rainke, left, of Southern Fun Carnival waits to hand a customer a freshly fried funnel cake while working at the Missouri American Water Carnival Land's Madison Street food stand during Jefferson City's Salute to America on Wednesday evening, July 3, 2013. Photo by Kris Wilson.

Jefferson City’s annual Fourth of July celebration brings thousands to the downtown area for food, games and fireworks.

But does the Salute to America event provide a much-needed boost to the city’s sales tax revenues?

City Administrator Nathan Nickolaus said it is generally believed any large city event that draws a crowd increases sales tax revenues, but the city has never been able to measure the actual effect of the annual event on sales tax numbers.

“It would likely be difficult for us to do that,” Nickolaus said. “I think a lot of people think that we have a lot of data on sales tax, but we really don’t have that much.”

Nickolaus said sales tax receipts are broken down by month and they don’t show individual businesses or specific days.

According to city sales tax figures, July historically has been one of the best months for sales tax revenues. In 2012, the July reporting period showed $1.069 million in sales tax revenues, the highest reporting period of the year. In 2011, the July reporting period also was the highest reporting period with $1.032 million in sales tax revenues. In 2010, the July reporting period again was the highest one with $1.04 million in sales tax revenues.

For 2013, the city is projecting $1.069 million in sales tax revenue for the July reporting period, which makes it the highest estimate for the year.

“It would be hard to say that that’s necessarily all Salute to America,” Nickolaus said. “We just don’t have the kind of data to pinpoint down what that would be.”

But while the data may not be specific, Nickolaus said he believes the event does provide a boost. Salute to America attracts many from around Mid-Missouri, he said, and even the outside vendors who join the festivities have to pay sales tax on their goods.

“I think the general consensus of the downtown merchants, particularly the bars and the restaurants obviously, is that they do bring in more business on these events,” Nickoalus said. “That would translate into more sales tax, but it’s hard to say city-wide what that is.”

Nickolaus said it’s impossible to say all those who come in from outside Jefferson City are coming into town solely for Salute to America.

See also:

2013 Salute to America photo gallery

Thousands turn out in Jefferson City for 4th of July

Only 2 groups promote ‘politics’ during holiday festivities

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