LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) — The new fiscal year in Calcasieu Parish started off with a strong showing in sales tax collections, parish officials say.

The American Press reports (http://bit.ly/cseYHv) the $6 million in sales taxes collected in July represented an increase of 8.7 percent over the same month in 2011 and 3.8 percent above budget.

According to data released by the parish sales tax office, sales tax collections came in at a higher-than-expected rate for a seventh consecutive month.

"That's a very good indicator that our area is doing well," said Rufus Fruge, director of the sales tax office.

The $87 million in taxable merchandise sales represented the biggest jump from July 2011 — 28 percent. Of the 11 categories the sales tax office tracks, eight experienced increases over the same month of 2011.

Fruge said the Calcasieu School Board's tax take was up 9 percent and the Calcasieu Police Jury received a 17 percent increase, Fruge said.

"The trend we see that our economy continues to improve," he said.

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Information from: American Press, http://www.americanpress.com