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Du Quoin receipts for April much higher than expected

  • Walmart, together with the Prysmian Group, produce about 65% of all Du Quoin sales tax receipts.

    Walmart, together with the Prysmian Group, produce about 65% of all Du Quoin sales tax receipts.
    Renee Trappe photo

By Renee Trappe
updated: 7/14/2020 4:46 PM

Du Quoin's sales tax receipts for April were so much higher than expected, Mayor Guy Alongi said he has -- at least for now -- taken layoffs of city personnel off the table.

The April sales tax figures were expected to be a big indicator of how hard the COVID-19 epidemic was going to hit the Du Quoin community, since it was the first full month of the business shutdown and residents living under the stay-at-home order.

Alongi, who feared COVID-19 could cost Du Quoin $500,000 to $750,000 in 2020 alone, had said a serious shortfall in sales tax receipts would mean the city would have to make dramatic cuts to its expenses, which might include personnel.

On Friday, however, the mayor was positively buoyant at the news that Du Quoin collected more than $251,000 in municipal and home rule sales tax in April.

"I expected a $25,000 hit," he said. Instead, the city got a $23,000 boost over March sales taxes. "I'm astonished."

Alongi said the unexpected revenue may mean that Du Quoin is "off of life support."

If the numbers hold up through May and June receipts, he added, "it will show we have weathered this storm quite well in Du Quoin."

Still, from April 2019 to April 2020, Du Quoin is altogether down $107,000 in sales tax receipts, so the picture is not entirely rosy. But Alongi, who had asked his department heads to project 15%, 20% and 25% cuts to their budgets, now says he may still ask them to noodle out 10%-15% cuts just to be on the safe side. But he doesn't want any of those to be labor costs, he added.

How did Du Quoin get so much more in sales taxes than expected? Alongi has some ideas. He suspects that residents, anticipating shortages, did a lot of shopping in April to hoard supplies for the months ahead.

"There may have been a rush in April to buy cars and appliances," etc., he said.

Alongi also noted that Walmart did land office business in April and that the city's largest manufacturer, The Prysmian Group (formerly General Cable), was ramping up production in March and April.

Together, Prysmian and Walmart account for about 65% of Du Quoin's sales taxes.

"We consider ourselves lucky we have retailer and a manufacturer," the mayor said.

Meanwhile, Alongi said the city will keep a watchful eye for the May sales tax receipts, which will come in August.

"There still could be a rough patch coming," he said. "But where we might have been looking at reductions in staff or offering early retirement, that's all on the back burner now."