Post-Katrina Sales Tax Numbers Released

B.J. Lock moved back to the coast right after the hurricane. The kitchen designer immediately went to work, and he hasn't stopped.

"This is volume that I've never seen," he said. "And we don't expect to slow down anytime soon either."

Not with people like Lisa Collums needing to replace "everything." The hurricane destroyed every appliance she had. So she's been out shopping for the best way to remodel her house.

"I'm going to get what I want because I'm going to have to live with it, hopefully forever," she said.

So many south Mississippians are in the same boat. They're lining up at appliance checkout counters, at furniture stores, at car dealerships, and at restaurants, and they're trying to rebuild their lives after Katrina. And that's helped Gulfport recover some of its tax losses.

Mike Necaise is Gulfport's comptroller.

"We were pleasantly surprised a couple of weeks ago when we have received the check from the state," Necaise said.

That check for October sales tax collections was more than $2.1 million. A 60% increase at a time when many predicted doom and gloom.

"The City of Gulfport is fortunate that its sales tax base remained intact at the I-10 Highway 49 corridor," said Necaise.

Gulfport knows that Hurricane Katrina washed away an estimated five million dollars in gaming tax collections, two million dollars in property taxes, and seven million dollars in water and sewer collections. To offset the projected losses, the city implemented a hiring freeze, and it received a $16 million federal loan.

If the bump in sales tax collections lasts for several more months, comptroller Necaise said it could also be counted on to help the city cover its expenses.

"We're going to come back bigger and better, there is no question about that," he said. "And I came to that conclusion probably six weeks ago."

About the time Gulfport store managers realized their initial post Katrina rush wasn't going to slow down.

"It's amazing," said Lock.