MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) – When Donald Trump came to visit Madison, city leaders went back and forth over the cost. The final dollar amount came out as $30,764.98. An argument was made that tax revenues would help offset that.
When we Took Action, we found the Trump rally coincided with an 8.03% bump in sales and lodging taxes for Madison, totaling $63,097.72 in tax revenue.
Here’s how we did it.
We filed a records request regarding sales tax and lodging tax revenues for the month of the Trump rally, both for this year and last.
We consulted briefly with Jeff Thompson of UAH’s Center for Management and Economic Research about what the numbers mean. He points out, “People spend money where they are, and so if they come to a location, and the number is larger than normal, then you would expect spending to increase. They buy food, they buy gasoline, they may buy lodging.”
So anomalies, like a rally that drew around 25,000, can impact tax numbers.
But the tax numbers are only tracked by the month, not the day
You have to identify other anomalies in the same span of time.
For example, Trump came to town in February . . . in a leap year.
So the data set has an extra day.
Thompson adds, “You have to remove those anomalies out of your data before you can do a year over year calculation.”
Tax Revenue Numbers
- February 2015 Sales Tax for Madison – $739,049.22
- February 2016 Sales Tax for Madison – $821,814.44
- February 2015 Lodging Tax for Madison – $46,655.32
- February 2016 Lodging Tax for Madison – $57,302.01
So we took the revenue numbers for February 2016 ($879,116.63), divided by 29 to get average daily taxes ($30,314.37), then multiplied by 28 ($848,802.26) to get a comparable number to February 2015 ($785,704.54), then found the total increase ($63,097.72), then figured it as a percentage increase (8.03%).
That gets rid of the leap day.
Of course, there are parts of the data set that aren’t as easy to shed, like a big snowstorm in 2015, that would have impacted both sales and lodging.
You can’t be totally definitive about the dollars and cents impact of the rally, but you can show it coincides with an extra $63,097.72 in city coffers that month.